Now that Apple is streaming 30 million songs directly to our phones, here are five new designs – from the world’s tiniest earbuds to UE Roll, the waterproof bluetooth speaker that clips to your jeans – to replace those bulky headsets.
1 UE Roll by Ultimate Ears
This adorable and lightweight bluetooth speaker has a bungie cord attached to it so it can be clipped onto backpacks, bicycles, belt buckles; pretty much anything, really. The casing is watertight, so UE Roll can be worn while swimming, showering or mud fighting, and its rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries last up to nine hours.
2 Helix Wearable Cuff by Ashley Chloe
The Helix, designed by Ashley Chloe of San Francisco, is billed as the world’s first wearable cuff with stereo bluetooth headphones. Now on Kickstarter, with the goal of raising $100,000, the stylish bobble should be on buyers’ wrists by the end of the year. What’s novel about Helix is its jewelry-like look and how it declutters the sound experience. The earbuds tuck into a tiny pocket with a metal lid and the cables wrap discreetly around the wrist band when not in use.
3 Earbuds by Earin
Wireless earphones are still a design challenge. One of the main problems is keeping track of easy-to-lose buds. Earin has come up with a sleek solution: a capsule container for storage that doubles as a charger, adding two to three hours of listening time with each charge.
4 Roll to Roll Headphones
Maxime Loiseau is a design student at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris, where he has been working on Roll to Roll, a headset that is lighter, thinner and easier to engineer than existing versions. Because Loiseau’s prototype uses printed circuits instead of wires, it’s a more streamlined design; it consists of eight elements (rather than the usual 50 or so), including foam, netting, thermoformed plastic, a metal hoop, thermo-welded tabs and the speaker itself. Roll to Roll debuted as a prototype at Wanted Design Brooklyn during NYCxDesign.
5 BackBeat FIT by Plantronics
This is among the best cable-free headsets on the market, and it’s ideal for athletes. The waterproof shell means you can shower to the sound of music and rinse off sweat after a workout. It also has a Find MyHeadset phone app to help relocate lost earphones. The eartips create great sound, but, for safety reasons, they also allow you to hear some of your surroundings, and a reflective finish makes you more visible at night – even when you’re grooving out.