Bose is kicking off 2021 by launching something rather unusual. The new Bose Sport Open Earbuds, which have been anticipated since they were spotted in a FCC filing in December, are truly wireless buds that don't go in your ears or even cover them – but instead gently grip the ear’s outer ridge to lock in place. There are no ear tips, "virtually no skin contact", and no vibrations that you'd get from an outer-ear model using bone conduction technology.
As anyone who's familiar with the fit and purpose of bone conduction headphones might have guessed, the Sport Open Earbuds have been designed to entertain while also keeping the wearer aware of their surroundings.
“Runners and cyclists have been asking us for headphones that let them stay focused on their performance without wires, neckbands, or having to pop out a bud to hear traffic, a training partner, nature, or anything else they don’t want to miss,” said Mehul Trivedi, category director of Bose wearable audio.
To facilitate this best-of-both-worlds' approach, the earbuds (which weigh only 14g each) feature a contoured earhook attached to an entirely new kind of enclosure that sits above the ear canal. Each enclosure uses a tiny dipole transducer placed for "loud-and-clear" audio that stays at the ear, and there's a microphone system built in that works to not only isolate your voice by reducing interfering wind and noise, but also isolate their voice from being heard by others near you.
In fact, while 'open' headphones are inherently associated with sound leakage, Bose says that even at high volumes only you will hear your music and conversations – not passers by.
Bose has patented this 'Bose OpenAudio' technology, so we imagine it'll appear in future earbuds too.
As more conventional earbuds specs go, the Bose Sport Open Earbuds use the latest Bluetooth 5.1 protocol, provide eight hours of battery life from a single charge, and are IPX4-rated (i.e resistant to water splashes from any direction). On-bud control is via a button on each bud – the one on the left lets the user launch their phone's voice assistant, while the one on the right is for power, play/pause, song skips and call functionality.
Available in Triple Black only and supplied with a protective carrying case and charging base, they can be pre-ordered in the US now for $199.95, with shipping beginning mid-January. UK and Europe availability is yet to be confirmed.