Human Inc headphones
Source: Human Inc

Microsoft appears to very interested in the headphone market. As it announced its Surface Headphones, a startup called Human Inc. revealed the tech giant’s part in its 22 million Series B funding.

Interestingly, the investment didn’t come from the company’s investment arm, M12. Press releases say the money came directly from Microsoft Corp.

“Having a successful financing come together from both the investment community and a marquee strategic corporation like Microsoft not only brings tremendous validation to what Human is trying to achieve but also is pivotal in building strong momentum in the marketplace for our small independent company,” said Human Inc. CEO Bill Moore to GeekWire.

Human describes it’s headphones as “a natural extension of the ear”, letting users swipe and tap the over-ear devices to control audio. The design of the headphone is thin, wireless, and sleek while promising high-quality audio.

The Smart Headphone Market

Based in Seattle, the company says its vision is to create products that put humans first, rather than technology. For its headphones, that means a fully wireless device that completely encapsulates and fits comfortably around the ear.

The Human headphones will allegedly have 12+ hours of battery life and six modes for different purposes. Joining with a phone app, they offer Sleep, Speak, Social, Active, Fade, and Amplify profiles.

Fade, for example, lets users block out or amplify environmental noise. By combining both earphones, users can create a loudspeaker, while the cups will also have biometric monitoring for exercise. You can also share music live with other users or have a bilingual conversation with them via translation.

“The headphone market is ripe for innovation,” said co-founder Ben Willis “Looking beyond today’s legacy headphone designs, we see a huge opportunity for a new form factor designed specifically for busy, digital natives who wear headphones throughout the day.”

The interesting features Human Inc. is implementing makes it clearer why Microsoft is deciding to join the headphone market so late. While the only major leap in its Surface Headphones is adjustable noise cancellation, it’s AI efforts could power some strong features going forward.

Currently, though, Human doesn’t have a complete product to show for its efforts. Its feature set is certainly ambitious, and it’ll be interesting to see if everything makes it into the final product.