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Augmented Reality Is Coming for Your Ears, Too


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Pairplay is an iOS app that guides two users through imagined scenarios while they share AirPods.

The PairPlay app is part of a larger trend in which audio-focused entrepreneurs are taking advantage of a perfect storm of technology, from increasingly sophisticated processors to sensors that track peoples movements to personal devices that can deliver remarkably good sound.

Credit: PairPlay

Sharing your earbuds with somebody is, in every important aspect, gross. There must be a compelling reason to want to wedge another person's waxy nub into your external auditory meatus. Such as love, or an unbearably long flight with no other options (the two are not mutually exclusive). Or a shared experience that demands, in some way, that two or more people hear the same audio tracks simultaneously.

For entrepreneur Jonathan Wegener, it was a culmination of events that led him to build a new app that requires shared AirPods. Back in the early 2010s, when Wegener was building the memory app TimeHop, he was also digging Improv Everywhere's Mp3 Experiments in New York, a "participatory audio experience" that delivered coordinated movement instructions to thousands of people wearing headphones. He deemed the Mp3 Experiment "mind-blowingly cool," both private and communal: A voice whispering in your ear, a sense of camaraderie with strangers as you participate in the same public performance.

Then, several years later, Apple's AirPods came out, and Wegener, like millions of others, was stunned by the effortless, wireless audio they offered. He watched two friends in Greece, a couple, split a pair of AirPods so they could listen to music together.

So he started building his next thing: PairPlay, a clever if obvious play on Apple's "AirPlay." It's an iOS app that guides partners, friends, or kids through imagined scenarios within their own homes. It's part of a larger trend in which audio-focused entrepreneurs are taking advantage of a perfect storm of technology—from increasingly sophisticated processors to sensors that track people's movements to personal devices that can deliver remarkably good sound.

From Wired
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