The new AirPods reimagined

Unum on male
Apart from AirPods cost and sound quality, they tend to suffer from the same thing as all other headphones and earbuds, whether they’re wired or not: you look like you’re unavailable to those around you. Earbuds in the ears have become a universal do-not-disturb sign of sorts, with some people choosing to wear them even when they don’t listen to music as a manner to avoid unwanted interactions. But the reality is, we use our headphones for more than just listening to our songs or podcasts. With a growing number of models giving us one-tap access to our voice assistants (or even a fast, “Hey, Siri”) our earbuds are rapidly becoming our secondary interface for our phones.
Unum on female
It’s this realization — that over time we’re only going to get more involved in speaking and listening to our private A.I — that caused Frog Design, the company that produced Macintosh’s now iconic initial shape, to rethink what our earbuds should look like and how we use them. The Frog Design team calls “Unum” their radical, open-hoop concept, and we have never seen anything like them. A Frog Design spokeswoman informed Digital Trends, “in the future, voice assistants will become so ubiquitous that the constant connection to our personal headphones will be too isolating of a social experience. Consumers will need headphones that support long augmented audio experiences without disrupting their real-world communications.”
According to Frog Design, the alternative is a true wireless earphone design that leaves the ears — at least visually exposed. All shape and inner elements, such as micro-speaker drivers and microphones, are intended to channel noise into your ear without having to be in, on, or above your ear. When individuals around you can see your ears — even if they can see you wearing the Unum as well, it “signals a new social etiquette for the future.” It is a subtle but efficient cue that you can still hear others, even if you are attached to an audio input. It also prevents the need for the transparency mode used in standard headphones and earbuds to pipe outside sounds.

The issue is, is Frog Design going to be able to discover a courageous enough electronics business to construct and market the Unum? The design may be just what the future requires, but individuals willing to wander around with these plastic rings surrounding their ears are difficult to see at the current time.

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