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AI headphones and clicky phone keys

A photo of headphones with a motherboard, on top of a Vergecast illustration.
Image: The Verge / Photo courtesy of University of Washington

The world is a noisy place. High-end headphones are getting better at shutting it out; solid noise-canceling headphones from Sony, Bose, and others are increasingly a must-have for anyone who spends a lot of time on planes and trains, or in coffee shops full of people pitching AI startups. It’s a sanity thing, really.

But there are already people working on a giant leap in active noise cancellation. Instead of just blocking all the sound around you, the next generation of headphones might block all the sound you don’t want — but let in all the things you do want to hear. And someday, it might even be able to do that automatically. Your headphones could block out your annoying friend but not your cool friend; could hush the vacuum but not…

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