Physically they're a black torc that fits loosely about two thirds around the neck. Attached a bit back from the front opening are two tethered earbuds equipped with Bose's really good tips, which come in three sizes. On the right hand tether is a small remote. On the outside of the earbuds are subtle bronze colored microphones.
Aside from being slightly smaller then other torc-style headphones they're not immediately different. They have their control on a remote, and of course the microphones on the earbuds, but nothing screams out also-for-hearing.
Putting them on in 360 mode was like listening to a live mic through, well, very good headphones. However using the app (we were using iPods) it was easy to control the base and treble to focus on what we were listening for - voices.
It was when the Hearphones were switched into directly-in-front mode they got exciting. In a room full of simulated loud coffee shop noise, and a dozen other demo-ees having conversations with their Bose-partners, it all faded away except for whomever I was facing.
Face this way and I could follow this conversation, face that and the other table came in clearly. For years I've had to position myself strategically in bars, restaurants, clubs and conferences - watching folks to ensure I'm following what they're saying. Suddenly that wasn't a concern.
I don't need hearing aids, and while I've spent some amount of time in loud clubs I've not particularly abused my ears. However coming on 50 years my ears aren't particularly reliable in noisy environments and now, suddenly, everything extraneous was muffled.
Sometimes an advanced technology really is like magic (and a really good demo.)
There's also a everything-in-front-of-you mode (180 degrees vs 360 degrees and about 35 degrees for those keeping track.) That would be for sitting at a table of people facing multiple correspondents.
Of course there's an app; iOS and Android. They apologized several times no Windows Mobile version (nobody looked concerned.) However the remote is intuitively designed and did everything necessary so no needing to be rudely screen-peering in the middle of a conversation. Volume up/down, treble/base, and switching between customizable modes.
The other big demo topic was being able to filter a TV or movie theater. Focus on the center speaker, crank the treble, and suddenly dialog popped - no more scrubbing back for what-just-got-said?
That they're also conventional Bluetooth headphones, with the noise-cancelling Dr. Bose invented, was taken for granted.
So, did I buy them?
Not yet. Their price is reasonable for being top-of-the-line noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones + the Hearphone technology but, a bit rich for me. Right now. However after another chaotic holiday party, a conversation where I mishear something important, or a conference where I'm straining to make out the content - yeah, probably.
Oh and if you're condemned to an "open office" cattle pen oh hella yeah. Selective noise cancelling with a music alternative would almost make those hellholes bearable.
Second what Samsung has been doing til now was installing nag screens and limiting battery charging to sixty percent. I'd be surprised if the US is the first country where they roll out no-charging. All their other methods were first launched in smaller markets.
Thirdly it is interesting they're supposedly software shutting-down the handsets and not simply denying them service. It'd be trivial to place every Note 7 on the blacklist maintained by US carriers for stolen devices.
Of course denying service means the devices are unreachable, so this might be the step before that, to ensure they're not kept around as wifi devices or fancy alarm clocks. Blocking the battery means they're effectively defanged - no charge means no chance of fire.
In my part of the world I haven't seen a Note 7 in weeks. I expect when a clerk points out a Note 7 is keeping a known fire hazard next to their genitals, or in their purse-of-important-stuff, or holding it to their face is asking for trouble, or charging it in their bedroom while sleeping is really scary, and insurance will no longer cover it's damages, the sane ones figure it's time to trade-in.
That source is in financial trouble and unable to produce the displays Pebble depends on.
Therefore Pebble has no products to sell and thus no cash flow.
Therefore Pebble has had to wind down operations and pay off creditors.
Pebble's IP has some value to Fitbit and hiring a few of Pebble's suddenly-available engineers is a no-brainer but Fitbit has no interest in the Pebble company or it's products.
The lesson is to be very leery of DEPENDING on a single source supplier. Pebble was a healthy going concern until they could no longer get their needed displays. Then it went off the rails.
They also no longer sell Huawei devices to their customers.
The latter is likely tied to their accusations of industrial espionage and theft by Huawei employees: Possibly paywallled NYT article.
So there's no love lost between the two companies.
Wifi can only augment service. It's too short range, too inefficient, and too balkanized. Indoors the access points are all stepping on top of each other and while Passport 2.0 will improve authentication it does nothing for handoffs and the other issues.
Indoor LTE promises to be spectrally efficient, relatively easy to deploy, and cost effective (each access point covers enough area/devices to be worth the cost/effort.) They're been widely seen as the solution for local cellular 'infill' - now they're going indoors.
Remember cell towers typically radiate downward at an angle, in an umbrella pattern. Therefore a locally dense area requires three or more millionish-US$-each towers around it. Or a thousand plus wifi access points, every 20m-50m, all requiring backhaul. Or a dozen ~US$50,000 indoor microsites offering LTE. They start to look very, very, attractive.
As to Wifi being removed from handsets, that is tremendously unlikely. Offloading heavy domestic data usage to another medium is still preferable. Corporate customers would flat out refuse any such handsets. And consumers would be rightfully incensed. Nobody (well, Verizon might try merely on their maximum-evil premise) would go for that.
The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"