Earlier this year, Sony revealed its Xperia Ear Duo to the world, with its Dual Listening technology allowing you to stay connected to your surroundings while hearing music and notifications from your phone. Today, the company has announced a local launch of the product.

Xperia Ear Duo features a distinctive design, and thats your first indication that this is not your normal earphones. It’s not designed to block out the outside world — quite the opposite, in fact. The product’s core feature, Dual Listening refers to its passthrough design that allows you to hear sounds from around you at the same time as you’re listening to audio from your phone via a Bluetooth connection.

The earphones are made from stainless steel and plastic, and feature a touch-sensitive bar that sits under your ear (so its out of the way of glasses, jewelery and any other accessories you might have in that area of your person).

You can use the companion app to define single, double, triple and long taps and swipes on both the left and right earpieces, so you can decide how to control it. If touch controls aren’t enough, you can also configure head gestures to navigate your music or take or reject phone calls (and you can use it for hands free calls, too). You can also configure it to give you a daily briefing – a news summary drawn from various sources – under certain conditions like when you approach your workplace or leave home in the morning.

Finally, you can also configure it to summon the Google Assistant or something called “Siri” if you connect it to one of those “iPhone” things.

Like so many tiny Bluetooth earphones these days, the Xperia Ear Duo comes with a charging case. The earphones themselves will soldier on for about 4 hours on their own, and a fully charged case can recharge them 3 times. There’s also an optional fast charger accessory that’ll add 1 hour of battery life to the earphones in 7 minutes if you really need the party to keep going.

Look up. Stay engaged.

Sony wants us to look up from our screens while still remaining engaged with the information they bring us.

The earphones’ unique style is designed to allow noises from the outside world in, which makes them specifically not aimed at those of us who might like using noise cancelling headphones in busy and noisy environments.

The Xperia Ear Duo is a pretty unique product. At as time when many headphones are duelling with each other for better noise cancelling features, the Ear Duo goes the other way. It’s designed for those of us who can’t block out the outside world at work, those of us who want the smart features or maybe those of us who want a little background music while we work, while still being cogniscant of the world around us.

It’ll read notifications to you, remind you of calendar events and more, but it won’t require you to block out the outside world in order to do it.

The Xperia Ear Duo isn’t going to be for everyone, but that’s okay – Sony makes other personal audio products as well, ranging from cheap wired earphones to top of the line wireless noise cancelling headphones. If the Xperia Ear Duo isn’t your thing, they’ve definitely got something that is.

If you like the idea of hearing the outside world as well as the audio from your phone, you’ll find the Xperia Ear Duo in store at JB Hifi, Sony Kiosks and online from May 28 for the princely sum of AU $399. The optional fast charger will disappointingly run an extra $50 but will be available from all the same channels.

Ausdroid has an Xperia Ear Duo on its test bench now, so if there’s anything you’d like to know call it out in the comments below!

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So are the new phones?