doppler labs is obsessed with ears and the way everyone hears the world
all images courtesy of doppler labs




founded in 2013 by noah kraft and fritz lanman, doppler labs is on a mission to design wearable technology that makes music more immersive and computing almost human. wearables are trending like never before, but the new york based firm is focused their obsession on ears and the way everyone hears the world. doppler-labs-designboom-07
the filters are advanced earplugs that reduce volume





dubs’ acoustic filters was their first successful endeavor, which is already in stores all around the world. they are earplugs that reduce the volume without forgoing the sharpness of sound. for the young generation clubs, concerts, festivals and even house parties are becoming more harmful than ever before. the ‘dubs’ feature a 12 decibel noise reduction rating to help protect those precious ears. made of high strength plastics, stainless steel, polymer foams and silicones, the ‘dubs’ create a form factor that allow them to be worn comfortably and sit flush against the ears. developed by leading acoustic engineers they work great for the next flight, or festival that needs attending. 

the ‘dubs’ have been pre-tuned to target specific frequencies





doppler labs next project is a lot more ambitious and technique. ‘here’ wireless interactive listening system acts as a controller for the ears by providing the user with a volume knob, equalizer and audio effects that overhaul the surrounding sound environment. doppler-labs-designboom-05
they feature a 12 decibel noise reduction rating





‘both from a design and innovation perspective the earplug industry has been at more or less a standstill for decades,’ explains director of design jacob palmborg. ‘we knew that lacking sound quality and the akward look of many earplugs made people uncomfortable wearing them in a social setting. with the dubs we tried to redefine what ear protection both sound and look like and through that reach a bigger audience that normally never would have worn earplugs. with the design we tried to make a product that was distinct and unapologetic. that meant no skin tones or attempts at being invisble. we wanted  to design a product that people would feel proud to wear and share with their friends.’doppler-labs-designboom-03
‘here’ has been engineered to give wearers control of any and all live listening experiences





paired with its app, the hearing platform uses active voice cancellation that is effective in managing the surrounding loudness. with its five equalizer settings, it can also adjust the bass, mids and trebs that can transform any live music experience. the way the ear pieces work, is they capture incoming sound waves, process the details of the audio, and the play it back the chosen result with no indistinguishable latency into the ear.

the charging case which holds two full charges  




the whole ‘here’ system is completely wireless, with automatic bluetooth pairing, and six hour battery life. the simple design hides many of the complex components, with an added detail they coming accompanied by three interchangeable silicon tips to optimized comfort and fit. an added bonus is the charging case which holds two full charges before needing to be plugged in. doppler labs is currently look for manufacturing funds on their kickstarter campaign with hopes of shipping to their customers in december 2015. designboom got a chance to talk to director of design, jacob palmborg about his creative principles, influences and interests. doppler-labs-designboom-04
they use a variety of signal processing algorithms that target specific frequency ranges to modify sound as it enters the ears 





designboom: what particular aspects of your background and upbringing have shaped your design principles and philosophies?


jacob palmborg: growing up in sweden, i was surrounded by a society that values design that is simple and functional. when i eventually went to school to study product design, i began thinking more deeply about  products and asking ‘why’ the things that I enjoyed using were designed the way they were.  still to this day, i try to ask myself ‘why’ at every step and if I can’t answer that question to myself and others the idea isn’t there yet. good design in my mind isn’t about making something beautiful but about considering all the details and why they are important to the user in the end. when i moved to new york and began working on bigger and more complex projects, the same philosophy has always applied. the difference now is that projects, especially incorporating new technology, always involve big teams and  huge constraints. the biggest challenge is often communicating the design intent clearly and why it is important so that it can be realized in the simple way it was conceived.  living and working in new york is a place that has so many influences.  it is inspiring and the people i work with and my friends here keep me motivated too.

the ‘dubs’ come in their own carrying box




DB: who / what has been the biggest influence on your work to date?

 JP: my father made his career in advertising and there was always an analytic conversation in our home around products and brands when i grew up. i think this mindset has had a huge influence on my approach to design.


DB: overall, what would you say is your practice’s strongest asset and how have you developed that skill over time?


JP: when i began, it was a lot about using sketching to work through design challenges. with experience visualizations and prototypes become more intuitive, i have found that i can work more efficiently and find my way to better ideas faster.  designers must have access to many tools but undoubtedly my most important asset is my ability to communicate and ask questions.  designs are never realized in the real world if they are not communicated effectively.

the layers inside the ‘dub’ earplugs





DB: what are you currently interested in and how is it feeding into your designs?


JP: at doppler labs, experience is everything.  we think about all of our decisions in the context of how it affects the user experience.  we have done a ton of investigations, interviews, and tests to help us make the product experience as magical as possible.  the feedback we get and the testing we do is inspiring, because we find that so many new users see potential uses of the product that are unique to their own lives.  i want people to use ‘here’ and from the very start, feel that they are experiencing something new and something that has a lot of potential, because that’s what is exciting about this.  with a new product category comes a lot of learnings and i’m beyond excited about what we have in front of us.


they install comfortably into the ear