You may have heard of noise cancellation headphones that dramatically reduce ambient sound sources to create a more enjoyable listening experience. They are rather expensive, but if you have ever used a pair, you will know what I mean when I say they are absolutely incredible!
These headphones work by sampling the ambient sounds sources, converting these into a digital signal which is then processed to create destructive interference, thus cancelling the ambient sound.
What may be suprising to you, is that along with the audio giants like Bose and Logitech that manufacturer these headphones, NZ has a successful noise cancellation headphone company too, Phitek Systems. They have offices throughout the world, including Auckland, Shenzen and Hong Kong, and are due to open one in Switzerland soon. What I think is really promising is that Phitek invest 30% of their revenue in R&D and recognise that the downstream benefits of this may take some time to flow on. I guess this is because they are from an R&D background, having been spun out of Industrial Research Ltd., whereas other companies are unaware and more demanding in this respect. As talked about here, I think business investment is R&D is critical, and I believe we need many more companies with the attitude of Phitek.
As well as manufacturing noise cancellation headphones, they also supply headphone jacks to airlines and have recently won a contract with Virgin Blue in Australia. According to Phitek, they now supply over 50 airlines worldwide, including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Malaysian, Air New Zealand and Qantas. So next time you're jet-setting around the globe, take a look down at your seat - you might not be so far from home after all.