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Brief Published: 3 May 2017

Knops: A Volume Button for Life


Amsterdam-based start-up Knops has created adjustable earplugs that can tune out daily noises and act as a “volume button for your ears”.

Knops allow users to instantly control real-world audio by turning a knob on the side of the wearables. Each pair has four modes – regular, with which the wearer hears normally; reduced volume, to filter environmental noises; level three, meant for dulling sounds as loud as live concerts; and a silent setting, ideal for work environments.

Knops use no electronics, apps or batteries, instead relying on acoustically tuned filters to adjust sound. By mimicking the human ear’s natural response to sound, the team managed to create a reduction in decibels across all noise frequencies, meaning that sound travels through all four steps with minimal distortion. “Instead of using electronics to try and synthesise something artificial, we’re taking the actual soundwaves that come into your ear, and modifying them,” Arjen de Jong, founder and head of technology at Knops, told DesignBoom. “What you hear is the actual, physical pressure wave, as it was already arriving into your ear.” 

Knops come in a variety of colours and can be worn discreetly and securely to avoid losing them during daily activities. The product reached its original $30,000 fundraising goal in under 24 hours online, and collected nearly $280,000 before fundraising closed last week. Each set of Knops is estimated to retail at €99 ($108), and global distribution is planned for November this year.

For more on the latest in wearable tech, see our report from the Wearable Technology Show 2017.