What’s New With Headphones
Technology, styling and buying trends updateFebruary 7, 2012 By Nancy Klosek
DEALERSCOPE: What's new and what will be hot in headphone technologies, styling and buying trends for 2012?
Mark D. Karnes, Managing Director, Consumer Products Division, Etymotic Research: You're seeing a trend where people are associating their favorite artist with a particular product or brand. That certainly will continue in the over-into-ear headphone category.
Also, I think more parents are starting to be concerned with the amount of time their children are listening through headphones and the levels they're listening at. They're starting to see media reports about kids walking away with some early-stage hearing impairment issues. We think a growing trend will be more parental responsibility in the headphone area.
The third trend touches on where the headphone interacts with the device: how the program configurability matches the device. For example, how you configure your headphones for a better gaming experience, or where you might program and configure them so they do better at sport applications, or for commuting purposes, or when you need a headset to be a better communication device for Skyping or a phone call. Right now, headphone accessory companies are addressing these needs by supplying something to make the headphone stay in the ear when a person is working out, or examining what needs to be done to make the headphone provide a super gaming experience, or be able to process in a home-theater-like way when viewing something on a tablet.
The next trend is where you will see configurable software within the device itself that helps the headphone become more purposeful for a particular application. We recently showcased some models; two are built off a configurable platform enhanced for iPod and the new generation of iPhones. Another is specific for Android users.
Another adds enhancements in our safe-listening earphones for children that helps parents and the child communicate while the child is listening to favorite content. That's where parents' personal responsibility enters in. With a pair of speakers, you always could tell if a child was listening to too-loud music, but with headphones or earbuds, you have no idea how loud they have it turned up, or how long they're listening. There are strict regulations in the industrial sector about noise levels for periods of time to avoid prolonged exposure.