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  • Lloyd Price

Project Wolverine: Google's top-secret moonshot factory working on new hearing technology

Background to X

In 2010, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to form a new division of the company to work on moonshots: far-out, sci-fi sounding technologies that could one day make the world a radically better place. It was a grand experiment — some might say a moonshot unto itself. 10 years in, X has incubated hundreds of different moonshot projects, many of which have gone on to become independent businesses.

X Team

X is a diverse group of inventors and entrepreneurs who build and launch technologies that aim to improve the lives of millions, even billions, of people. Our goal: 10x impact on the world’s most intractable problems, not just 10% improvement. We approach projects that have the aspiration and riskiness of research with the speed and ambition of a startup.

Project Wolverine: Hearing Technology

A new leak from the X division of Google's (technical) parent company Alphabet has shared details of "Project Wolverine", a device that lets the user isolate audio to focus on a specific person or source.

The device has other capabilities beyond speech isolation, and the X team is actively working on expanding its utility as part of their focus to "explore the future of hearing."

One of the most likely breakthroughs is thought to have come from cancelling out background noise with anti sound in order to isolate audio from one source or location.

"Background noise can be cancelled out with antisound. A microphone picks up the noise and an electronic circuit analyses it and very rapidly produces an opposite noise. Where the original sound wave has a peak, the antisound has a trough and vice versa, so the two cancel each other."

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