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Daniel Blumer and Navi Cohen are equally newlyweds. And whenever the hardware accelerator () provided to allow them spend four weeks China optimizing their design ideas they jumped at the possibility — although it meant turning their lifestyles altogether. “When we were accepted into HAX, my wedding had already been planned,” states CTO co-founder and materials scientist Cohen. “But we’d had this idea for a long time. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.”
Their fresh custom-fit earphone firm launches on Kickstarter today. Typical custom-fit earphones are 1,000 and also demand a visit to an ear doctor. Blumer and Cohen’s base product sells for $169 and can be created in 60 moments–using progress substances and also a kit you are using in your home. And how do you build a earphone that is actually different when there are already so many on the industry?
One of their first questions was how to acquire the custom-molded earphones to fit properly, feel good–and be simple to manufacture. Not as simple as you may think.
That led them to the (proprietary) gel-like substance that arrives in their custom-fit kit–you place the earphones in your ear, press the start button on the companion app on your phone, and “in 60 seconds the gel-filled tips transform from their initial state into their permanently hardened, customized shape.” Really.
“The challenge with wireless earphones is packing in as much electronics and battery life as you can into a small package, and doing that as elegantly as possible,” Cohen says. “We did a lot of creative circuit layout. At first we were trying to fit everything into a really small board—that’s not possible. Then we came up with a couple of ideas. We combined different materials some rigid, some flexible so you can fold the board—it’s essentially like having two boards taking up the space of one. And we built this battery pack extender that clips onto the back of the earphone wire.”
Typical Bluetooth earphones only have five hours of battery life. Theirs comes standard with eight hours of battery life. With the extender it is possible to add another six hours of listening. “We’ve been flying back and forth to Shenzhen which is an 18-hour trip. We needed this battery,” Blumer says.
The earphones have external mics to mimic your normal hearing and an app quality which allows you control the total amount of surrounding noise played back over your music. The reason? Safety.
“The mics on each earphone know what’s around you and which direction it’s coming from, like if a car horn is honking on your right,” Blumer says. “When we made this we talked to a lot of people. They loved isolating sound, but they just wouldn’t buy these for working out or being outside—you need to know what’s happening around you.” They call it an adjustable soundscape. What they really created was volume control over the outside world.
How do the earphones sound? That remains to be seen. But Blumer and Cohen did think it through. They’ve partnered with Onkyo, the 70-year-old Japanese company known for high-end audio manufacturing (and the Pioneer brand in the U.S.). “One of the things we wanted to make sure we got right was sound quality. It really matters. It mattered to us to pay attention to everything—the case, the wire clips, all of it,” says Blumer. “I got married last September. We flew back in October during our trip to China for Navi’s wedding. If we were going to be away from our wives for four months for this, we were going to do it right.”