BARCELONA, Spain—I'll admit to being a little sceptical as I sat down to listen to Noveto's private speaker system.
The current prototype—which like an old iPod speaker dock of the sort you'd find knocking around the bargain bin of a supermarket in the early '00s—doesn't exactly inspire me with confidence. Neither do the cheesy infomercial-like videos, which highlight the various ways in which having a private speaker—that is, one that only you can hear—might prove useful. And yet, as a focused beam of audio hit my ears with a clarity far richer than the robotic din of the MWC show floor might otherwise allow, it's hard not to be impressed.
Noveto, a small startup from Israel, hopes that its private speaker system might one day eliminate the need for headphones—no wires, no wireless, no nothing, just crystal clear audio. You could imagine a busy office where, instead of having to hold a phone up to your ear to take a call, you could whack it on a private speakerphone, leaving your hands free to take notes. Or, you could play a split-screen game, with each player able to hear a completely unique audio track. Those who struggle with their hearing could have a louder audio beam for themselves.