Google has announced that it has teamed up with leading hardware company and smartphone maker OnePlus to develop a “next-generation” wireless speaker that it says will allow users to talk on their phones without their hands touching the screen.
The announcement comes less than a week after OnePlus announced that they would be partnering with the Australian Federal Police to provide an additional 1,000 police officers with a free wireless device, as part of their anti-terrorism efforts.
“Today we’re announcing a new partnership with the Federal Police of Australia to help police officers in the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia conduct anti-terror investigations using an alternative form of wireless communication,” the company said in a blog post.
“The police will be able to connect their mobile phones and their smartphones with an iPhone, using a special device that is designed to provide audio and visual feedback to police officers.”
While OnePlus says it is “delighted to partner with the federal police” to help them conduct their investigations, they also said that the devices are “designed for the ultimate in personal safety.”
“We will provide them with a pair of these headphones, so they can experience the true sensation of sound without being distracted by their phone’s touchscreen,” the statement continued.
“As soon as you hear the sound of a gunshot, you can say, ‘That was a great shot!'”
While this could certainly be a great idea, there is an issue with this particular implementation: the phone has to be connected to a USB port.
That’s because you need to be able touch the screen to make it listen to you, and it can’t be turned off and on by the user.
“While the phone is powered on, it will remain connected to the internet.
So while you can still listen to the audio and the audio will be played through your headphones, it won’t be able do much,” OnePlus said.
In an interview with Ars Technica, OnePlus CEO Pete Lau revealed that this was a major concern for them, as they are “working hard to ensure that the speaker’s physical design will make it as inconspicuous as possible.”
“When you’re doing something as complex as making an Android app, it’s very hard to know how to design the phone without touching the device,” Lau told the site.
“And that’s a huge issue when you’re talking about a speaker that is made from aluminum.”
While this sounds great, it is not a solution that can be used in a vacuum.
The key to the wireless speaker is a Bluetooth chip that can receive and transmit audio data.
If you were to use this chip in a device that has a screen, it would allow you to control it from your phone, but that isn’t a solution in itself.
If OnePlus were to develop this, it may not be too far off from the technology already available in the iPhone.
It’s possible that they could offer an audio mode that allows for the speaker to play audio from a phone or MP3 player, but it would still need to take advantage of Bluetooth and USB, which aren’t quite at the level of what is needed for the audio system.
OnePlus has said that it will also work with Bluetooth Low Energy, so that they can “enable Bluetooth and NFC technology that can work in tandem with our technology.”
In order to be sure that this isn’t an issue for the police, they should be able “to access their phones and use the phone to record the audio,” the CEO said.
“It’ll also work to listen to a phone call while you’re driving, or to record a phone conversation while you are driving.
So there will be a lot of applications where this can work.”
There is no word on when the headphones will be available, but OnePlus is not alone in this endeavor.
Last week, Apple announced that the company was partnering with Samsung to develop “a next-generation, Bluetooth-enabled wireless speaker.”
That partnership is expected to see the first Bluetooth speakers be made available to the public this summer.