The Museg is a pretty neat looking guitar-pick-shaped speaker. Unlike most speakers that are either squarish, cylindrical, or circular, the Museg’s use of a triangular form feels slightly unusual, but makes it deservingly eye-catching.
However, it isn’t Museg’s shape that’s worth lauding, it’s its ability to use its shape along with modularity to be portable when you want it, and an immersive music setup when you need. When used individually, the Museg is a slim speaker that’s great to use solo. It throws audio in a 120° wide cone, making it ideal for carrying around with you. However, snap two speakers together and you’ve got a synced audio unit that fits well in corners, throwing sound in a conveniently wide 240° cone. The Museg, in its dual-setup works great when placed against a wall, like on a cabinet/mantelpiece. If you want the Museg to be placed in the center of a room, pair three of them together to get an immersive 360° experience. The Museg’s ability to be used in a single, dual, and triple setup means it can be used as a personal audio device, or a space-specific audio device too. The units conveniently pair when near each other, and the logo on the upper part of the speaker grille even has a pretty intuitive way of letting you know when two or more speakers have synced together. Pretty nifty, no?
Designer: Jake Naish
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.
Designer: LASCH+PRILLWITZ DESIGN
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!
Designer: Peter Yoon of ADVANCED SOUND GROUP
In a world full of square speakers, the Dial Sound stands out with its irregular round shape. Minimalistic and modern, the form actually harkens back to a familiar fragment of music’s past — the gramophone.
It’s elevated speaker design delivers high-definition audio in whichever direction the user places it. Better yet, it features intuitive controls that include a small on/off switch on the side, a large dial that encompasses the speaker to adjust volume, and hidden LEDs at the front and rear indicate the device’s power mode. Simply give the dial a spin to crank up your favorite tunes.
Designer: BKID co for Samsung
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.
Project Alias looks and behaves like a parasitic fungus, in the sense that it latches onto its host, feeding off it and inhibiting its functions for its own gain. It may sound a little extreme, but it does it all for the sake of privacy. Smart speakers now sit in one out of three American homes… and while they’re great in terms of convenience, they’re a privacy nightmare. Smart speakers are always listening in on everything you say or do around your home, and companies create databases and profiles based on the tonnes of information they collect to sell ads and products to you. The two largest players in the market, Amazon and Google, literally have business models that revolve around harvesting personal data to sell to the highest bidder, which in turn sell you products and or services.
The Project Alias device sits atop the smart speaker, like a fungal growth, blocking out its microphones, so that the speaker can’t listen to you. However, when you do want to access the smart speaker, say a keyword and the Project Alias lets your command through to the speaker, effectively deafening the home assistant when you don’t want it listening, and bringing it to life when you do.
Designers Bjørn Karmann & Tore Knudsen designed Project Alias as a defense tactic, and modeled it on a fungal species that aptly captures the way the parasitic product behaves. “This [fungus] is a vital part of the rain forest, since whenever a species gets too dominant or powerful it has higher chances of getting infected, thus keeping the diversity in balance,” says Tore Knudsen. “We wanted to take that as an analogy and show how DIY and open source can be used to create ‘viruses’ for big tech companies.”
The project is an entirely open-source piece of tech that contains a 3D printed outer housing, a Raspberry Pi board, a microphone (for your voice commands), a set of speakers (that block out the home assistant’s internal microphones with a static), and a line of commands that are all readily available on GitHub, although I’d totally spring for a ready-made version of this. I imagine it won’t be long before companies begin building and selling their own Project Aliases, but then again, that goes against what the project stands for in the first place.
Assemble the product, plug it into a power source and you’re ready to go. The product sits on top of a Google Home or Echo, covering its microphones, while speaker modules inside the Project Alias produce a white noise that prevents the home assistant from hearing anything. In order to communicate with the home assistant, you can set your own catchphrase that the Alias recognizes. Program it to respond to “Hey Brad” or “Hey Speaker”, or “Hey data-mining corporation” (if you’re a bit of a nihilist), and the Alias picks up on the cue, triggering the home assistant to listen to the rest of your command. The Alias’ voice command recognition feature works locally and the device doesn’t connect to the internet or store any information on the cloud, making it perfectly safe and secure, allowing you to hack your smart speakers to work perfectly well without them invading your privacy, and preventing mega-corporations from gathering any further data on you and your personal lives. And there’s a side advantage to this too. You can now rename your smart speaker to pretty much anything you want, rather than being restricted to “Hey Google” or “Hey Alexa”. Rather cool, isn’t it?
Designer Daeun Joung’s latest concept looks like nothing more than a three-dimensional piece of wall art… but it’s that and more. The sculptural design actually triples as a short throw projector and wireless speaker.
Disguised as art on your wall, it frees up the surface real estate that most wireless speakers occupy. Working in tandem with the COZY app on your phone, the design can stream your favorite tunes and display a variety of customized notifications on your wall. Sync it up to preview a live stream of the news or make it display the weather, time, and stocks.
Designer: Daeun Joung
You may constantly need to explain yourself to your parents or conservative family members when they first take a look at the Sony LSPX-S2 Glass Sound Speaker, because trust me, it looks uncannily similar to something you’d find in a college-going teenager’s room.
Mary Jane reference aside, this product, weird as it may look, is classic Sony. Sony as a company is famed for creating products that are state of the art, but also weird (Verge has chronicled most of them down)… and the LSPX-S2 or the Glass Sound Speaker is the latest entry into that category. Designed to look like a candle stand (I believe that was the original intent), the Glass Sound Speaker was made to serve as an all-round piece of audiovisual entertainment as it packs a light into it too. Made to sit on tabletops or bedstands, and to serenade one with music while cozy in bed or while preparing a meal or having a romantic dinner, the light within flickers with the intensity of a candle flame, but what’s more interesting is the audio setup that sits underneath.
The speaker, right below the glass tube, comprises a 35 mm mid-range driver and a passive radiator to deliver the mids and the low-ends. However, for the higher frequencies, the speaker relies ON the glass tube. “The organic glass body itself vibrates after being tapped by the actuator under it to spread the sound vertically in a 360-degree direction. The organic glass tube tweeter has a wider surface (compared to conventional speakers) to create crystal clear sound with minimal loss of volume.”, says Sony. Innovative, for sure, but I still can’t shake off the overall shape that Sony decided to go with… and priced at $700 that’s a mighty expensive water-pipe looking piece of tech right there.