So today I stumbled across an amazing article. It described a new type of earbud called an Airtube, designed by Sunmi Hwang, Hyunjoo-Lee and Jiwon-Seok. The earbuds have a special pressure sensor inside them that will only activate when the earbuds are in your ears. When they’re removed and the pressure is released, they shut off your MP3 player for you. Basically what we’re looking at are earbuds that “know” when we’re listening. How cool is that?
This is fascinating, energy-saving technology. I’m always intrigued by the many futuristic uses of electronic devices, particularly when they’re furthering the causes of energy preservation and conservation. Just a few years ago, something like this would surely have been considered nothing more than a science-fiction fantasy, something that might be featured in a novel or on a movie screen but never in reality. Now it’s actually possible.
Think about how many times we have to buy batteries because our music devices have worn down. Most of us have to occasionally pull out our earbuds without warning when someone comes over to talk with us, or for one of any number of other reasons. And we don’t always remember to shut off our music when this happens. It’s so frustrating to finally remember some time later, only to discover that the batteries are running down or dead.
According to Apple’s January 2011 quarterly report, 304 million iPods have been sold worldwide since their inception. And that report was almost a year and a half ago. Imagine how high that number has increased by now. Also imagine how many hours we waste when we actually aren’t listening to our music. If it was just one hour per person, and that was multiplied by all of the iPods in the world, that’s 304 million hours! And surely it’s far more than just one hour per person. On the opposite scale, imagine all the hours that could be saved by every person using the Airtube earbuds. And the iPod is hardly the only MP3 player in existence. If you add every music device, and the hours that could be both wasted and saved with them, the total amount of energy preserved could stretch into the billions.
Sadly, it seems that the Airtube earbuds are only a design and a concept so far. Of course, as with any newly proposed technology, there would be wrinkles to iron out before they would be ready to go on the consumer market. But I hope it happens and that this product will become a reality. It would be such a worthwhile device for music and energy lovers everywhere. Just think, we could listen to folk rock or country or show tunes (Newsies musical, anyone?) and never have to worry about being able to return to them after an unexpected interruption, due to our batteries singing their swan songs. And once we’d return and put the earbuds back in our ears, our MP3 players would automatically turn on again.
As fun as that sounds in and of itself, the bottom line is that these unique little earbuds would be helping us save energy as well as time, patience, and batteries. In today’s high-charged and energy-demanding world, what more could we ask? There can never be too many environmentally-friendly devices to suit me.
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