A few weeks ago, I was sitting in a presentation in Sydney when I saw a video clip that featured an extremely clever Bluetooth microphone that Jabra had developed in partnership with extreme sports sponsor Red Bull the device was designed to cut out extreme noise.
It was ingenious and had been designed to operate in challenging environments and adverse weather conditions so next time that you are watching a Formula One race and the sound sounds significantly better you can thank Jabra.
Just imagine being on the side of a mountain in adverse ski conditions and you are trying to record a voice track, Jabra have now made that possible. The technology is set to excite extreme sports producers and camera men as well as live sports broadcasters.
Called the X Mic, it’s designed using a combination of physical elements and DSP (digital signal processing) to eliminate unwanted audio from recordings.
The first thing you notice is that Jabra engineers have designed a round shape to avoid wind catching the edges of a microphone and then buffering the sound. They have also used a special blend of fabrics to guard the mic from further wind noise.
In fact, I suspect that it won’t be long before we see this microphone being sold alongside top end Go Pro cameras.
Another big plus is that the microphone is wireless and lightweight, so athletes and adventurers can easily clip it on their body, inside helmets or on for example a pair of ski’s so that you get that real slushing noise as the ski’s cut through the snow.
Jabra claims that because traditional wired microphones get in the way of athletes’ movement, they were banned for use in some sports.
The compact design also allows producers to use several microphones to capture specific aspects of the sound, like how multiple action cameras are used to capture different angles simultaneously.
The team tested the X Mic prototype at the Red Bull Ring race track in Spielberg, Austria, under extreme conditions – it was latched onto a race car speeding at up to 200kph on a rainy day.
From Jabra’s findings, the X Mic was able to record distinct engine revving sounds compared to traditional microphones which were overwhelmed by wind noise.
“For us it’s about emotion in content that people may not normally see. If you watch a film or a video without sound, you miss so much of that emotion,” says Jabra brand and marketing creation senior director Jonathan Pennington.
Although the prototype is meant for extreme sports, Jabra believes it will be adopted by consumers.
“The starting point was in the extreme sports arena because that’s really the best testing ground for how the microphone will work in any condition. You see the birth of action cameras in extreme sports, but I see people walking the dog with them,” says Pennington.