How Nothing Designed ‘Ear 1s’ to Beat Apple AirPods
Thomas Howard: After we first began to consider Nothing, there was this concept to ‘personal’ transparency. We’re not going to win the tech race, that’s for positive. But when we wish to actually have a probability, we have to get actually good at engineering. So let’s simply put off the facade, eliminate the whole lot that’s on the outside and switch ourselves to the insides, as a result of that’s what issues.
From a distance, you get intrigued however issues really feel fairly easy, after which slowly as you begin to take a look at the floor, that’s when the main points of the product reveal themselves. However, then once more, we didn’t actually know what kind of issues transparency would trigger.
TH: The largest factor was the glue to fuse the 2 sides of the clear housing collectively. We have now been via many, many, many iterations—even up till final week—to search out the correct steadiness. Should you do it improper, you’ll see glue all the way in which across the edge. So it is not going to seem clear anymore. As an alternative will probably be subtle. It throws the entire thing off steadiness.
We tried alternate options to connect, numerous forms of laser welding, ultrasonic welding—issues that is likely to be extra pleasant to the yield, however, in fact, it’s a studying course of for us. It simply wasn’t on the prime of our minds [when we started], however for future merchandise now it’s the very first thing that we take into consideration.
Carl Pei: The yield fee for Ear 1s is just 50 %. We wish to get it to the 90s. We’re bettering daily.
Is that this why you haven’t opted to make the earbuds or case fully clear? It is simply too exhausting and also you get such a excessive manufacturing failure fee?
TH: We set ourselves the problem of unveiling as a lot of the engineering as attainable on Ear 1 and the case. However it’s important to try to make merchandise which might be as impartial as attainable. They should really feel balanced and never scream “engineering” at you. So we select to obscure, or package deal, some parts, to not detract or distract. That’s why we have now this massive white block inside the case. However we did as a lot as we probably might to make it clear.
CP: A whole lot of us had been uninspired by shopper tech trying an increasing number of the identical. It was necessary to discover a design language we might follow. Jesper [Kouthoofd, founder and CEO of Teenage Engineering] confirmed us an image from the Sony museum the place there have been a bunch of merchandise on the wall. You can see a constant imaginative and prescient. Corporations right this moment don’t actually have a design imaginative and prescient, they simply do no matter is in vogue every quarter.
The trick is to search out one thing completely different that’s additionally fascinating, however not simply completely different for the sake of it. Pure clear design, the place you see the whole lot on the earbuds and in addition the case, doesn’t fulfill that standards. We wish to make the merchandise accessible to extra folks. It will have been very area of interest if it was absolutely clear.
Ear 1s vs. AirPods Professional
What’s it with all of the dots? The dot emblem. The feel dots on the case. The purple dot on the correct earbud.
TH: We had been attempting to take away jobs for ourselves that we don’t like. We needed to design a emblem. We wished the look to be industrial. So … [Howard pulls out something that looks like a large gun.] That is wonderful, this factor. It’s what they use to mark pipes in industrial environments the place you’ll be able to’t print on them. It squirts out a sort of ink. Nevertheless it’s mainly a dot matrix. We thought, let’s let a machine design the brand for us. See the place that route takes us. Then we began to make use of that typeface for lots of stuff.