Think back to last year when it was impossible to avoid a conversation about politics. No matter which side you were on, the coverage leading up to the 2016 election was even more obnoxiously ubiquitous than Pokemon Go during its first week of launch. As someone who tries to avoid politics at all costs, I couldn’t help but wish for a gadget that would allow me to turn my ears off to the growing noise of a country ripping itself in half, and only listen to the things I wanted to hear—even if that sounds a lot like what caused all these political problems in the first place.
The point is: At least we now have that technology.
Created by a Dutch startup with the same name, Knops is a volume button for your ears. It looks like a normal set of in-ear headphones, but features an isolation system with four settings that lets users block out noise in different environments. Step one keeps the earplugs open to all sounds, step two blocks out city noise, step three adjusts to block out background noise during a concert, and step four is meant to cancel out all sounds.
It does this without using any electronics, batteries, or apps—just a cone-shaped body that filters out certain frequency levels and pushes whatever remains into your ears. The company claims its earplugs are capable of retaining a flat response curve, so everything that makes its way into the device keeps its natural sound by the time it reaches you.
Earplugs that filter certain sounds aren’t a new concept. Companies like Etymotic and V-Moda have been making them for years for anyone from musicians to construction workers. They are considered hearing protection devices because they reduce sound levels in the environment to protect against irreparable hearing loss. It’s probably too late for the iPod generation, but tuned earplugs are an excellent option for anyone who has sensitive hearing or works in a loud environment.
Knops is unique in that it allows you to adjust the level of noise isolation with the switch of a knob. They’re also undoubtedly gorgeous. The company says one of the reasons for creating them was to be the first to produce earplugs that didn’t look “pretty ugly.” I think many will agree it’s accomplished that mission. The earplugs come in a number of colors and textures, and look a lot like plug earrings when worn.
Knops launched its product on Kickstarter earlier this month. It already broke through its crowdfunding goal three times over. Early backers pledged around $62 and should receive their product by November.