Accidentally Extraordinary: Capacitive Touch Headphones
Accidentally Extraordinary: Capacitive Touch Headphones
Capacitive touch built right into your headphone cable, with an elegant and one-of-a-kind design aesthetic. Featured at CES 2013.
Capacitive touch built right into your headphone cable, with an elegant and one-of-a-kind design aesthetic. Featured at CES 2013. Read more
About this project
From the International Consumer Electronics Show 2013:
"Accidentally Extraordinary had one of the few new ideas at CES, touch controlled headphones." -semiaccurate.com
"The made-in-Oakland, touch-controlled headphones were one of the truly new ideas found at this year’s largest innovation event and they definitely turned some heads...We love the concept." -geeknewscentral.com
Headphones with capacitive touch built directly into the cable
Headphones with a touch interface
These headphones are unique. They are the first headphones that utilize the power of capacitive touch technology directly on the surface of your headphone cable. Yup, that is correct, the simplicity of a touch interface, built directly into your headphone cable.
Eye-catching unique design
The asymmetrical design of these headphones is singular in the huge range of headphones available. And we didn't just dress it up like this for fun. Our sleek design reflects our unique touch functionality--this part of the cable really is different. While our current prototypes have this section sitting above the rest of the audio cable, the final product will have that section flush with the rest of the cable. The touch section will retain a different color and possibly texture to keep our style consistent, but otherwise just part of the headphone cable.
Touch-sensing with nano-carbon
Our current product development is focusing on utilizing nano-carbon graphene touch sensors printed with patented, graphene-based Vor-ink directly on the surface of the cable. Graphene has been shown to have some remarkable conductive properties--and its durability may be its biggest strength. The capacitive touch cable is designed to be flexible and durable so that day-to-day use does not compromise the headphones' function. Our touch surface, being developed in collaboration with graphene-leader Vorbeck Materials, is as flexible as the rest of the audio cable, and durable enough to withstand normal wear-and-tear (such as accidentally sitting on the earbuds, or inelegantly pulling your headphone cable out from the bottom of your bag...whoops).
We are currently working on a collaboration with an audio company based in California that has been doing this for over 30 years. We've been working hard on our touch technology, and this partnership is just what we've been looking for us to get our focus on audio to the same exceptional level we expect from our capacitive touch technology.
As of now, our prototypes control volume and pause/play/skip using the same mic connection that headphones with physical buttons utilize. These touches and gestures will be customizable with our included app. Like the Jay One Plus headphones out of Sweden, our app will add the ability to personalize gestures and touches to control your playback with even more precision.
KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE! Promotional Earbuds for $60 donation!
So here's the story with these earbuds. In the next few months, we should have capacitive earbuds ready to show to the world. But in the halls of Accidentally Extraordinary, we just loved the asymmetrical design so much that we had to make some. So we made a few earbuds, with the our signature color scheme, complete with a soft button embedded in that red section of cable. This soft button can do the following on the following devices:
iOS: pause/play, skip track, answer calls
Android: pause/play, skip track, answer calls, volume control
Windows Phone: pause/play, skip track, answer calls
We decided, "hey this might make a good Kickstarter reward!", and here we are. Again let me stress, these are not capacitive touch, but they are sleek, have great sound, and you can control your playback with the cable.
T-shirt design for $35 donation
Hooded Sweatshirt Design for $60 donation
end of Februrary
• Finalize testing on graphene electrode surface designs
• Second meeting with Industrial Design firm in San Francisco
• Finalize Studio Headphone design
• Continue audio control app building
• Move in to factory space in Oakland
• Continue R&D on earbud models
• Finalize app development
• Remodel of factory space for production in Oakland
• Finalize partnerships with component suppliers for production
• Finalize design for earbud models
• First production-design prototypes available for beta testing (studio style)
• App beta testing begins
• Continued beta-testing of studio headphones, final design tweaks
• Completion of factory space remodel, floor is production ready
• First production test-runs, final QA assessments
• Earbud beta-models ready for testing
• Product launch, first production run
What are we going to do with your money?
This is no small project as you can tell. While we're excited by our progress and collaborations, we know we have some distance to go yet. As we ramp up toward full-scale production, we will be using Kickstarter funding to help with the following:
-Secure one of four commercial floor spaces we have already toured
-Complete all renovations needed to get our production run ready
-Finalize headphone and earbud designs (keep up with our progress on our blog!)
-Components for test-production runs and full-scale production
-Continue the growth of our two major partnerships--our nano-carbon and our high-end audio people
-Fund all of our gifts to donors
-Get you your headphones!!
1. How much will one of these cost?
Kunal (founder): The retail cost will fall within the $160 and $200 range.
2. Are you making earbuds too or just the studio headphones?
K: We're currently developing earbud models as well as studio models, they should be ready to unveil in the coming months.
3. How can I keep track of your progress?
K: We'll be tweeting regularly: @aeheadphones.
4. But really, how durable is this going to be?
K: Currently, our collaboration with Vorbeck Materials has proved very exciting. They print their patented Vor-Ink conductive nano-carbon on surfaces that go through washing machines and maintain their integrity. In fact, nano-carbon graphene's durability is probably its biggest strength, especially in a day-to-day use product such as this. We know you won't treat your headphones like you would your iPhone or computer, and our fabrication with reflect that.
5. What about your audio quality, I'm not seeing much on that here...
K: Part of building our product is the focus on excellent, uncompromising sound (we are building headphones after all). We are in the beginning stages of a very promising collaboration with an audio company based out of California. We're still early in this work, so we don't want to use their name yet, but hope we can unveil that collaboration very soon. So far, most of our focus has been on developing this capacitive touch interface, so we're very excited to get our audio focus to the same exceptional quality we expect from every component of our product.
6. Will coming into contact with clothing or other surfaces mistakenly activate the headphones' touch surface?
The patent-pending capacitive touch technology responds to the skin on your finger, but not to inanimate objects. Our current prototypes also feature "swipe-on" activation and lock to further guard against unintended activation.
Risks and challenges
A few challenges remain as we work diligently to complete this design and begin production. Our current main challenges is overcoming the inherent barriers in starting larger-scale production in the USA when nearly all our competitors have outsourced their production.
While a few headphone manufacturers do exist in America, none of the currently popular, well-marketed headphones are made Stateside. While this creates higher initial capital outlays, it also positions us in a unique place. As we begin to scale up, we hope to become a leader in this visible niche while maintaining our commitment to local manufacturing. However, for our initial production run, we will be getting many of the audio components from abroad and assembling them in Oakland. The touch interface will be made locally and the entire unit will be constructed on our floor in Oakland. As we begin to reach an adequate level of productivity, we hope to transition to building our entire units in house.
Part and parcel of that process is the usual bureaucracy that will challenge us as we secure permits, documentation, and legal support. However, Oakland has been offering incentives to manufacture locally, and we intend to explore every avenue to quicken our progress so we can get you our product as soon as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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