CES 2018: Samsung's 'directional speaker' aims to replace headphones

We're all used to headphones, and we're all used to wireless speakers. But what if your wireless speaker became your headphones? That's the concept Samsung is demonstrating with S-Ray, a portable directional speaker that can be carried anywhere.

According to Samsung, "S-Ray helps people avoid having to put on earphones for a long time that can cause ear pain, and avoids the distractions to others that Bluetooth speakers can cause."

The way this new concept will work in everyday life is currently… unclear. There's an explanatory video – an animation of a person doing yoga, shopping at a supermarket and visiting a gallery, with directional sound being pushed towards them in each situation.

Samsung says a variety of product options "such as Neckband, Handy and smartphone cover" will be shown at CES 2018.

We're skeptical. If you've got a packed day - going to your yoga session as well as shopping, for example - you'll have to carry two pairs of speakers rather than one pair of headphones, which isn't particularly practical.

Also, we've seen similar designs from JBL, in the form of the Soundgear from 2017, and the LG Tone Studio, which combines this concept with traditional headphones, and they're yet to capture the hearts of the general public. Still, who knows – 2018 may be the year this innovative technology takes the streets by storm...

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Adam was a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?, reviewing consumer gadgets for online and print publication, as well as researching and producing features and advice pieces on new technology in the hi-fi industry. He has since worked for PC Mag as a contributing editor and is now a science and technology reporter for The Independent.