For as long as I can remember, I've dreamed about a pair of earbuds that could pump music into my brain without the fuss of wires or plugs. And in recent years, various companies have tried (and failed) to make good ones. A funded Kickstarter project promises to finally succeed.
They're called OwnPhones. Billed as "the world's first 3D-printed wireless earbuds custom fitted to your ears and perfectly designed to match your personality," these impossible-seeming little gizmos sound too good to be true. The idea is that OwnPhones' software turns your phone into a 3D scanner. So when you take a video of your ears from different angles, it turns the footage into 3D data, and after you pick one of 10,000 combinations of size, colour, and style, a 3D printer spits out a pair of perfect earbuds just for you.
As with any Kickstarter project — funded or otherwise — I approach these promises with a hefty helping of caution. Because Kickstarter projects are often ridiculous. On that note, when the product description uses adverbs like "perfectly", I'm even more sceptical. The over-produced teaser video, with its Minority Report references and its misplaced subway speak, definitely cast a bit of doubt on the project.
And yet! The hilariously under-produced demo video actually gives me hope. Not only do you see the earbuds in a real human's ears, but you also see them pair with an iPhone, talk to Siri with the press of a button, and even play music. And it's worth noting that other companies are using a similar technique to customise earbuds. A working prototype does not a successful product make — however, I'm impressed enough to ride this one out, and maybe even buy a pair.
The suggested retail price for OwnPhones is a whopping $US300, but there are a few hundred early bird specials starting at $US150 still available. Who knows how well the Bluetooth connection actually works or how they sound. But you'll surely impress the pants of your futuristic friends, if you walk into a party talking to Siri with your magic earbuds like Joaquin Phoenix flirting with robo-Scarlett Johansson in Her. [Kickstarter]