EarTop: Perfecting Wireless Headphones

July 25, 2012

1:00 pm

Tomorrow is the Kickstarter launch of EarTop FLOW, a gadget that plugs into your headphones to make them wireless.

EarTop was imagined by 19-year-old Ketan Rahangdale, a former DJ who got sick of tangled headphone wires. It works with several Beats by Dre headphones, as well as Bose QuietComfort 15.

The final look of EarTop, available for preorder at $65, is the culmination of 6 months of design. Working with engineering firm G5 Engineering Solutions, the team started with sketches and plastic moulds to explore different shapes.

“The point was to make it really sleek and sexy at the same time,” says Rahangdale, who made it into the Kairos 50. “It’s kind of like a fashion statement.”

An early version of EarTop (see below) was nice and sleek, but it had a few problems. All that sleekness meant a tiny battery, so it would have to be charged often. It also meant fumbling to find the buttons while it was perched on your head. And most troubling, EarTop would have to design a new version to fit every type of headphone.

Halfway through development, the EarTop team landed on a solution: they would create a standard core to hold the Bluetooth chip and battery and make custom holders for each type of headphone.

From there, it was all about the details: rubber adhesive to make the jack fit snugly into the headphones, bumps between the touch-sensor buttons so you could navigate with your fingers, and microphones to answer phone calls and use voice control like Siri. And the finishing touch? Red LED lights for “party mode.” With all those changes, EarTop shed some weight to land at a mere 1.1 oz.

EarTop is available for preorder on Kickstarter and will ship in time for Christmas.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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