14 November 2019

Thinking About Earbud Design


This will be an on-going post about earbuds and their designs.

I’d like to think more deeply about these devices because they seem to herald something of a change in how we present ourselves in the world, and how the world is presented to us.

AirPods Pro

A few preliminary thoughts:

Microsoft Surface Earbuds

  1. These earbuds are going to be a dominant accessory for the next few years in relatively developed countries. They are expensive and definitely a luxury, especially when wired earphones still get the job done.
  2. Do these earbuds represent a significant shift in how people interact with the world and their technology? Is this shift larger or smaller than the shift to personal earphones in the first place?
  3. There’ve been comments in various places that these earbuds act as augmented reality devices, some negative and some positive. How does that work?
  4. How do companies differentiate themselves from each other in this hyper-competitive market, given that the primary function of all of these are effectively the same?
  5. How do these aesthetics relate to other kinds of devices that people might wear? Spectacles? Watches?
  6. How do these relate to things like earrings and other body modifications? The Microsoft Surface Earbuds are probably the ones that come closest to being clearly like body modification (see the ear tunnels and spacers). Will these leftover associations be a hindrance for their design?

Jabra Elite 75T

Design Technology

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