Earbuds are on the verge of a major functionality transformation, says Romit Roy Choudhury, PhD, a professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois.

“The leap from today’s earphones to ‘earables’ would mimic the transformation that we had seen from basic phones to smartphones,” Choudhury said in a statement earlier this month. “Today’s smartphones are hardly a calling device anymore, much like how tomorrow’s earables will hardly be a smartphone accessory,” he says. The future devices will “continuously sense human behavior, run acoustic augmented reality” (whatever that is) and “have Alexa and Siri whisper just-in-time information.”

Great, I suppose.

Whatever, Choudhury isn’t the first to tout the promise of “earables,” a word that’s been around for years and which I hope doesn’t stick. Meantime, for many people, the promise of next-gen earbuds is more urgent and practical, as I wrote recently:

Explainer of things, independent health and science journalist, author, former editor-in-chief of LiveScience and Space dot com.

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