You Can Now Buy Those Futuristic Earbuds From The Movie "Her"

Impossibly small headphones: a great human achievement, or the greatest human achievement ever?

Joaquin Phoenix’s character in the movie Her uses a tiny wireless earbud to communicate with his phone. Instead of completely focusing on the film, I couldn’t stop thinking, "That’s exactly the kind of earbuds I want, but two of them for stereo sound."

Then I found the Earin, two Bluetooth earbuds which work in tandem but aren’t physically connected. They ship in January 2015, which is a lot sooner than I expected from the milieu of the film. Launched as a Kickstarter campaign, the project skyrocketed past its $300,000 USD goal in about three days.

There appears to be some pent-up demand for wireless headphones, and Earin is not the only competitor. The Dash is an ultra-compact music player built right into a pair of wireless earbuds, but they're meant for exercising; Earin is unapologetically focused on streaming music in the most minimalistic way possible. There's not even a mic for phone calls.

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The driving factor in the shrinking the size of earphones is the battery technology. For its power Earin is using a Li-ion coin cell battery which will provide it about three hours of battery life per charge. To help make that number practical, the earbuds also come with a small capsule which will charge them in between uses.

Recently, I spoke to cofounder of Outdoor Technology Caro Krissman, who’s also making a play for smaller and sleeker wireless audio products. Part of the company’s ability to create modern audio devices has come from its expertise in sourcing parts from China. Earin acknowledges that parts and suppliers are the make-or-break factor to its success in the "risks and challenges" section of its Kickstarter page. The changing nature of the battery market, and the huge variance in quality, means that the Earin earbuds could end up even better than they are currently spec'd, should new parts hit the market before Earin does.

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Here's how the headphones work. The Bluetooth signal is split into a left and right channel and sent to the first speaker. The right channel continues on from the left to the second speaker with a slight delay, but Earin says the lag is indistinguishable to the human hear.

Bluetooth has advanced quite a bit in the context of audio streaming says Errett Kroeter, director of global industry & brand marketing at Bluetooth SIG. "Since the adoption of v4.0 the SIG has rolled out updates to the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, A/V Remote Control Profile, Generic A/V Distribution Profile, and the Audio Video Remote Control Profile, among others," he says.

Kroeter also adds, "In 2014, the SIG entered into a partnership with the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association to develop a standard for new hearing aids, improving existing features, and creating new ones such as stereo audio from a mobile device or media gateway via Bluetooth." Obviously, Earin is taking advantage. Who else will step up and compete? Here's looking at you, Apple (and Beats).

[Photos courtesy of Earin]

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  • skolly01

    These are not real! And I assure you they WILL NOT ship when they say.

    For a moment, think about plausibility. If this was remotely possible, the "big guys" would have done it already.

    Soon you will hear about "unforseen manufacturing/component" costs or the like.

    People NEED to be far more skeptical.

    TellSpec, ThingCharger, Ring (logbar), Coin, Momentum Smartwatch, SmartRing....the list goes on. SCAMS

    I would also like to add, that I would love nothing more than for these "technologies" to be real.

  • Robert Morgan

    I think I remember seeing this exact comment posted by millions of people regarding the Oculus Rift...

  • antiaverage

    the JayBird BlueBuds X are close enough, have way better batter life, have no lag between ear pieces, and look great. I'm just not feeling the "earplug" style of these things, and that battery life leaves me nervous. I'm okay with a flat wire going between the ear pieces, it's the cord to my player and the headbands I want to be gone. The BludBuds X does that for me.

  • This is just a wireless version of how speakers were formerly set from a radio inside your house. The wires were split to 'divide and conquer' the music from both sets of speakers instead of just one. I'm curious on the price, but this looks epic.