These Revolutionary Earbuds Mold to the Shape of Your Ears

As the saying goes, if something doesn’t exist then invent it yourself. Boulder, Colorado-based athlete Kyle Kirkpatrick took this sentiment to heart after becoming frustrated that he couldn’t find a pair of comfortable earbuds that would also stay in his ears. Custom made in-ear headphones exist, but they can cost as much as $2000 per pair. So Kirkpatrick consulted with some audio engineers, and with the help of crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, ushered in the first custom-molded wireless earphones, which have already won awards and rave reviews. On December 13, Kirkpatrick's company, Decibullz, exceeded its Kickstarter goal and became fully funded, having raised more than $250,000.

The lightweight earphones work like this: soften the thermoplastic molds and silicone canal tips in hot water, wait for them to cool (you don’t want to burn your ears), attach the machined aluminum earphone to the molds, and contour the earpieces into your ear. According to Decibullz's Indiegogo page, “Once cooled, the earpieces retain their shape until reheated. Decibullz earpieces are the only earpieces that can be reheated and reshaped as many times as desired.”

Remember Ron Popeil's adage of “set it and forget it”? Well, Decibullz reduces that to “heat and shape.” It’s apparently that easy.

The headphones feature up to a 40dB noise isolation, a five-hour battery life, an in-line remote and microphone, and are resistant to both water and sweat.

Right now, Decibullz earphones come in three different types. The custom-molded earplugs ($19 on Indiegogo) don't play music; their only function is to block out noise. The wired earphones ($49 on Indiegogo)—which come in seven different colors, including beige, lime green, and pink—have tangle-resistant cables and are fully compatible with most smartphones, tablets, and computers that offer bluetooth. The most popular model is the custom-fit wireless earphones ($89 on Indiegogo), because, you know, no wires, high-quality audio (9mm performance drivers), and Bluetooth 4.1. If all goes well, the products should be delivered to buyers by March.

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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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SmithGroupJJR
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Futuristic New Street Toilets Are Coming to San Francisco
SmithGroupJJR
SmithGroupJJR

San Francisco’s streets are getting shiny new additions: futuristic-looking public toilets. Co.Design reports that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has chosen a new design for self-cleaning street toilets by the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR that will eventually replace the city’s current public toilets.

The design is a stark contrast to the current San Francisco toilet aesthetic, a green knockoff of Paris’s Sanisettes. (They’re made by the same company that pioneered the Parisian version, JCDecaux.) The tall, curvy silver pods, called AmeniTREES, are topped with green roof gardens designed to collect rainwater that can then be used to flush the toilets and clean the kiosks themselves. They come in several different variations, including a single or double bathroom unit, one with benches, a street kiosk that can be used for retail or information services, and a design that can be topped by a tree. The pavilions also have room for exterior advertising.

Renderings of the silver pod bathrooms from the side and the top
SmithGroupJJR

“The design blends sculpture with technology in a way that conceptually, and literally, reflects San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods,” the firm’s design principal, Bill Katz, explained in a press statement. “Together, the varied kiosks and public toilets design will also tell a sustainability story through water re-use and native landscapes.”

San Francisco has a major street-poop problem, in part due to its large homeless population. The city has the second biggest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, and data collected in 2017 shows that the city has around 7500 people living on its streets. Though the city started rolling out sidewalk commodes in 1996, it doesn’t have nearly enough public toilets to match demand. There are only 28 public toilets across the city right now, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These designs aren’t ready to go straight into construction first—the designers have to work with JCDeaux, which installs the city’s toilets, to adapt them “to the realities of construction and maintenance,” as the Chronicle puts it. Then, those plans will have to be submitted to the city’s arts commission and historic preservation commission before they can be installed.

[h/t Co.Design]

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