“Big Sound for Music’s Tiny Fans” is perhaps the best way to describe the JBL Jr Pop, a conceptual speaker created by Shenzhen-based Kim Hyojin.
A winner of both the Red Dot Design Concept Award and the iF Design Award for the year 2019, the JBL Jr Pop is a junior speaker, designed to be child-friendly, and give children their dedicated music-listening device. The Jr Pop is small, light, rugged, and comes with a leash that the child can use to carry their sound with them. A comforting ring of light around the speaker gives it a halo, illuminating the branding, and captivating the child with dancing light visuals as they listen to music.
The Jr Pop is loosely based on the JBL Clip speaker design, sans the carabiner clip. It pairs via Bluetooth, probably to the family iPad or to a parent’s smartphone, playing music for the child, and is designed to give them the joy of having a personal musical experience, powered by JBL’s remarkable audio technology!
There’s a higher likelihood of your headphone having a 3.5mm jack than your phone having a 3.5mm input… but don’t ditch your headphones for wireless ones yet! It’s exactly what these large corporations want! To have you adopt standards that help them further their vision. Your wired set of headphones are more than capable of being your primary headphones, the only hurdle is turning them wireless. The AirMod by Bolle & Raven helps that happen. Designed here for the Bose QuietComfort QC25 headphones, the AirMod just conveniently plugs into your headphone where the aux cable wood, and turns them, with a simple touch of a button, into wireless-enabled headphones. The AirMod is quite literally a Bluetooth receiver, catching audio from your phone or playback device and playing it through on your headphones.
Designed to fit snugly around the profile of the earpiece, the AirMod sits on your headphone pretty innocuously, without gathering much attention. It delivers up to 7 hours of constant playback on a single charge, and features a built-in mic and controls to make switching from phone calls to music a breeze. The AirMod currently comes in three variants, for the Bose QC15, QC25, and the Beats Solo 2, and are designed to exactly fit the profile of these headphones, but maybe Bolle & Raven will release more variants with time! After all, isn’t it better spending a quick buck to make your great headphones wireless than to burn a hole in your pocket trying to buy a good wireless headset??
After a little over 70 years, Vitra is doing a special reissue of Ray and Charles Eames’ iconic radio design, but bringing it back with a slight modern twist. The Eames Radio, if you look at it, looks quite like the icon of a radio. It’s perhaps the most natural design ever, featuring a use of geometry, proportion, and just pure sense, to make something so clear and so beautiful, it looks stunning even after 70 years. Vitra’s reissue takes that design and puts a modern spin on it. The radio still comes with a molded plywood exterior, an antenna, and a matrix of circular holes that serve as the speaker grille. It still comes with two rotary knobs, but also packs four extra control buttons and an LCD display that’s equally vintage and modern. With the Eames signature on the bottom left, the Vitra Eames Radio pays tribute to an icon of product design, created by two of product design’s most revered names. In honor of how special the original design is, Vitra is limiting their production/reissue to just 999 pieces.
While plastic waste, to a certain degree, can be recycled, it’s just a small percentage of the total waste out there. Certain polymers grow past their ability to be recycled because of additives, impurities, stickers, prints, etc. and this is the plastic that causes the biggest problem because it just can’t be recycled.
Brighton-based design studio Gomi is trying to be a part of the solution. The Gomi speaker, designed by the studio, uses these unrecyclable plastics as its primary raw material, turning as many as a 100 plastic bags into a blockish speaker that churns out music and looks spectacular while doing so. The speaker’s block comprises three separate parts or modules that can be easily separated and melted down to form new parts when imperfectly formed or when discarded. Its simple blockish shape enables this, and also forms a brilliant canvas for the beautiful marbled effect of the colored plastics that interact with each other. Gomi’s raw materials and hand-crafted marbling ensure that no two speakers look the same, making them bespoke and one-of-a-kind.
Designed to be a great speaker too, Gomi partnered with electronic engineers and audio professionals to hone the sound of the speaker, and even used recycled denim for acoustic insulation! Plus, in a bid to make sure that the Gomi lives up to its purpose of being a speaker that champions a cradle-to-cradle approach, the company is even offering free repairs for their products and devising a system where customers can return products to be recycled.
Probably the only thing missing from Apple’s product roster is a pair of over-the-ear headphones. Apple has already developed and seen a fair share of success in the Airpods, and the Homepod (although the Homepod’s acceptance has been slightly underwhelming). The two products are immaculately engineered, and feature Apple’s very own Voice AI, Siri. The Airpods work with the iPhone, while the Homepod works independently, like all smart speakers. There is, however, a puzzle piece missing. The Airpods are a champion of portability but aren’t a hi-fi audio solution, and the Homepod boasts of a sound quality that Apple claims is unmatchable, but it isn’t portable… the most obvious bridge between the two would be a pair of professional-grade, studio-quality wireless smart headphones.
The designers at CURVED/Labs imagined what this bridge would look like. Taking very strong design cues from the Homepod, these smart headphones boast of large audio drivers that deliver spectacular sound, along with a touch-sensitive panel that lets you tap and swipe to access the headphone’s smart features. The headphones even pay tribute to the Homepod with the colored waveform-graphic found on the Homepod’s touch-panel, and the faux-weave texture around it. I imagine the headphones also pack noise-canceling, as is expected with high-quality audio products, and from the looks of it, these concept headphones even come with a neat wireless charging dock/hanger. The Airpods do work with Android phones, so it’s safe to imagine that these headphones would too, but just like the Airpods, functionality would be extremely limited, and the touch panel wouldn’t be of much use.
Although there’s no word on what one would call these conceptual headphones, the chaps at Gear Patrol quite aptly point out that the suffix ‘Pod’ is synonymous with all of Apple’s audio products, so our best guess would be something on the lines of Apple Studiopod, or Airpod XL, or my personal favorite, the Airpod Pro!
A smart speaker with Bluetooth capabilities, the Eclipse Zero Sound is a very aesthetically design device. Although we are not sure about the specs, the design aspect of the speakers is up for discussion here. Much like a hollow pillow, the ring of speakers helps with the acoustics. I use a Bose Soundlink Revolve + and its tower – lantern shape with a special carry-handle, makes it kinds kitsch. So when I compare the Eclipse Zero Sound as an alternative, I think the square-ring will probably belt out better sounding music towards you. I also like the fact that you can hang the Eclipse Zero Sound on the wall, or put it on a stand. This makes it versatile in placement and portable.
The YOYO speaker earns its namesake for the innovative strap design that makes it easy to carry. The strap can be concealed simply by wrapping it around the middle and released with one swift pull. Once released, the wireless device can be hung on your bicycle handles, a tree while you picnic, or a backpack during a hike. Covered in a waterproof tweed-like fabric that comes in a variety of vibrant hues, there’s one to match every user’s distinct taste and style.
The world changed as we knew it in 2016 when Apple announced that their phones would no longer carry the 3.5mm headphone jack. They were obviously pushing for wireless audio, as they also launched the AirPods that year. As with everything Apple does, the entire industry followed, dropping the jack from their smartphones, resulting in an awkwardly high amount of wired headphones now becoming undesirable. See, wired headphones may be a sort of nuisance, but some of the best headphones in the world are wired, not to mention wired earphones are much more reasonably priced than their wireless alternatives.
If you’re like me, and you have a wired headphone that you’d love to use with your smartphone but can’t, the future isn’t too entirely bleak. You can either spring for a dongle, which makes sense for a while, but when you migrate to a new phone from a different company, that dongle is essentially useless… or you can take your old earphones/headphones and turn them wireless. It’s as simple as plugging it into a Bluetooth transmitter, which in this case, is the Accessport Air. Bluetooth transmitters come a dime a dozen but not many of them boast of the kind of features you’d find in the Accessport Air. Built with Bluetooth 5.0, aptX high-resolution audio playback, low latency for gaming, and 9 hours of playback on a single charge, the Accessport Air works with all phones that have Bluetooth and all playback devices.
I ended the last paragraph with the words ‘playback devices’ on purpose. The Accessport Air doesn’t just make your wired headphones or earphones wireless. It works with speakers, amplifiers, and even your car audio system. Basically anything that can connect to the Accessport Air via its 3.5mm audio input can be made wireless. Using the Air is as simple as plugging the playback device in, switching the Air on, and connecting to it with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. In order to give your playback devices the power of Bluetooth 5.0, the Accessport Air comes with an internal battery that lasts for 9 hours on a single charge. Enough to watch movies, play games, listen to long playlists at the gym, at work, or on the subway, or even connect to your car audio system for those long drives!
The Lenovo 700 Ultraportable Bluetooth Speaker is quite literally the most portable one ever. Most portable Bluetooth speakers are portable alright, but they aren’t slip-into-your-pocket portable. Audio drivers tend to have depth/thickness to them, resulting in speakers that may be small and lightweight, but are almost always chunky too, making them ideal for laptop bags, but not pant pockets.
Lenovo’s latest offering wants to be the kind of Bluetooth speaker you carry around with you, the way you carry your phone. Designed to be pretty much the same size as the phone you have, the Lenovo 700 slides right into most pockets with ease. At just 11mm thick, it’s probably the slimmest Bluetooth speaker to exist, and can fit into your pocket without you even noticing the difference. However, take it out and tap it against your phone and the Lenovo 700 becomes a speaker worth noticing. Built with NFC and Bluetooth 5.0, the speaker pairs with your device almost instantly when brought close to it, and a set of controls located on the base of the speaker grill let you toggle through your music and even answer and reject your calls.
Given that the Lenovo 700 is too thin to stand on its own and needs to be placed lying down, the speakers are built to push sound outward in 360°, rather than just upwards. This approach makes it easy to listen to your music no matter where you are in relation to the speaker. The speaker provides 8 hours of use on a completely charged battery (which takes two hours to charge to 100%), and even comes with an IPX2 rating, making it splashproof. Designed to be carried everywhere you carry your smartphone, the Lenovo 700 was made to be used both indoors and outdoors, at work or at home, and even be the speaker-of-choice to take to the gym or even the poolside.
The speakers were a part of Lenovo’s CES 2019 showcase, but are yet to be launched.
Things have come a long way from the Sony Diskman from the ’80s! No larger than a watch face, the Skinny Player is exactly as it sounds. Designed for those moments you want to take your music on the run but don’t want headphones and don’t want to lug around a large Bluetooth speaker, it can attach anywhere from your shirt collar to your backpack for quick, light, and easy listening that won’t weigh you down. Synced with your phone’s library, it packs a powerful punch in a pint-sized package that you can take just about anywhere.