Google's experimental lab is working on a fascinating, top-secret initiative.
A secretive company is reportedly working on a top-secret plan to give people superhuman hearing.
X, a company focused on moonshot ideas that's owned and operated by the Google parent Alphabet, is now working on a project named "Wolverine" after the X-Men superhero due to his heightened senses, Business Insider reports. The ultimate goal is to develop tech that lets people filter out a specific source of noise, perhaps granting abilities like being able to focus on just one speaker out of a noisy crowd.
Cocktail Party Effect
X is the same moonshot, big-problem-tackling company that previously spun out the self-driving car company Waymo and the now-defunct internet balloon project Loon, Business Insider notes, so it does have a track record for creating viable tech.
That said, the former employees who spoke to Business Insider emphasized that the shadowy project is still in its early stages — there's no guarantee that it will ever see the light of day. Or, if it does, there's no guarantee that it will resemble the current version, which sits on the ear like an oversized hearing aid.
Up and Up
There's reason to believe Wolverine will fare better than Loon or Google Glass, which might be X's most famous flop. Business Insider's sources said that the project has some prominent names attached to it, including former Starkey Hearing Technologies VP Simon Carlile and former ARPA-E director Jason Rugolo.
So while we don't know what a final version of the Wolverine device will look like or whether it will become commercially available, it does seem likely that something is likely to come of the project due to its upward mobility within a company already dedicated to tackling lofty challenges.