However, it's pretty hard to evaluate since there's nothing concrete on the site and it's hard to imagine how they work.
What buttons do they have? How do they charge? How do you actually hear the audio when it doesn't actually go in your ear? Since it doesn't go in your ear, can someone next to you hear your audio -- is it private? What part swaps out? What's the battery life? What's the price? How much is the base price, and how much for each swappable part? Etc. etc. etc.
From the website alone (ignoring your HN title), I'd assume you haven't made these yet and you're just trying to gauge demand. But assuming you actually have made them... please show them off not just on the fashion side, but on the functionality side! Give us all the info please. :)
If you can compete with or beat most other earphones for battery time, you're already set. Unless you can identify some low hanging fruit, I wouldn't invest much more time into power management because getting Apple-like power management without degrading the connection and user experience is really hard. The two work against each other unless you've got the resources to run large tests to compare changes and perturb towards a solution.
I'd recommend focusing on sourcing. The manufacturers who make cells for Apple and auto manufacturers bin their output just like other silicon fabs and only give Apple/automotive customers the best cells (selling the rest to less discerning clients making consumer electronics, ecigs, etc.). On the extreme, I've seen batches of 18650s from the same manufacturer vary from 2Ah to 3.5Ah depending on what quality of Samsung cells they got. You could probably eek out 10-30% more life that way, but it's hard to predict the final outcome during R&D.
I think you'll find a lot of embodied wisdom on how to discreetly route audio into the ear canal.
Is this just a prototype and you can make them smaller? Probably not as you need that part over the ear channel to hide the transparent tube, like with hearing aid, right?
Yes it's somewhat of a niche market; but if done right, it can work. If they're selling them with precious gems/metals they wouldn't even need a huge market to be viable.
Imagine if they designed the audio-module so you can slip it out of the earring and into an in-ear device/holder for in-ear use a la AirPods, then on your casual days you don't need the fancy jewellery.
edit: Yea, I assumed wrong as several commenters pointed out.
In the pdf link above it states
> "Ear Jewelry with Wireless Audio Device" provides a headset apparatus in which the audio device extends through the piercing in the wearer's ear, with the signal path passing through the piercing of the ear itself from a wireless communications device at the first end to the sound production unit at the opposite end.
In the linked pdf, see pages 1, 37, 38, 39 and 41 for diagrams. In the background, they also say "a headset apparatus in which the audio device extends through the
piercing in the wearer's ear."
But I feel like where this can really shine is hearing aids. These would sell like hotcakes with about 50% of the population.
Hearing aids nowadays generally just don't look too great. Which is why they tend to go the camouflage route instead.
Making them look pretty could go a long way.
The real issue is cost. The cost issue persists despite of attempts to address cost concerns by granting people 30-day trials with full refunds if they decide to return the hearing aids, i.e. decide that the cost is not worth it. Convincing people to drop four figures on something that, by virtue of making the free and independent decision to purchase it, labels them as somebody with a disability is a hard sell. Able-bodied people don't want to give themselves the "disability" label. That's true regardless of how stylish the hearing aid is.
The situation won't change until there is greater media representation of people open with their hearing loss, living full and capable lives, to change the perception of a hearing aid to be less like a walking cane and more like vision glasses.
Which is already happening. The hardware in an Airpod is effectively the same as that in a hearing aid. Wearing an Airpod isn't a sign of a disability, with all the stigma that comes attached to that.
Something like these earrings blur the line even more between hearing aid and headphone. You could actually imagine wearing it all the time (including during conversations) without appearing rude - a big problem with just wearing earbuds.
The only thing missing is the software to do local DSP and amplification. It's almost certainly possible - bluetooth headphones have all the required components - but the manufacturers aren't writing the software to amplify ambient noise directly. Either because they don't believe the market is there or because they don't want to venture into the "medical devices" category that hearing aids land in, with all the added R&D expense that entails.
What you'll read below comes from second-hand experience because my dad lost his hearing in one ear after an operation.
Hearing aids aren't that expensive because of the hardware. In fact they're quite cheap to produce and because how fragile their camouflage design makes them they tend to break all the time and generally get replaced for free for life. Everything else is what makes them expensive.
Consider a hearing disability like my dad has. Complete loss of hearing in one ear after the surgical removal of a tumor on his hearing nerve (acoustic neuroma, luckily no other complications besides this expected outcome - it being pretty much brain surgery), and his other ear isn't too great either.
He spent a lot of time trying out various hearing aids for one week each while an expert guided him through the process and configured each to his needs. Because he has trouble hearing sounds that come from his deaf side he wants those transmitted to his other ear.
There is some audio processing tricks that can be applied here which will make it easier for you to gauge which side the sounds are coming from, filter out noise, amplify the voice of people you're facing etc.
The whole process of adjustments to the hearing aids and trying out different ones took 2-3 months of sometimes bi-weekly trips to the specialist.
Nowadays when a hearing aid breaks (happens from time to time, they're not very sturdy) he can go back to the specialist and walk out with a replacement already configured for him.
This is what you're paying for with the 0k-10k euro price tag (your insurance should cover the first x000 euros). The whole support experience around the hearing aids, not the aids themselves.
Can't really get that with AirPods or whatever.
Ultimately, there are specific use cases for our earrings, but even though they are specific, they are not at all uncommon.
To me, these are uncanny. They look like earrings, except earrings just don't cover any part of the ear canal like that. I don't think I've ever seen that before.
I expect if I saw them in the wild, I'd spend a lot of time trying not to stare at them, trying to figure out what's up with the weird earrings.
Maybe I'd get used to it? They don't look bad just... yeah, uncanny.
I suspect the most powerful thing you could do, is end up with someone commenting in the media 'What's she wearing?'
Problem is, if that happens? Now you'll have 1M orders overnight. A good, if stressful problem to have.
All that said, this looks like a good idea, and you've executed. Good job!
AND... "Our audio module is interchangeable between earrings, so you can match your look to the occasion!" That didn't seem to catch my eye up front, but it's there.
The earrings look great, one can’t even tell they’re borg. The only problem that I see is that they won’t be kept for as long as regular earrings, a generation or two and hop in the landfill. The same is true for a lot of technology things nowadays. Any idea how to change the trend and make things more lasting?
The best part was our model's reaction. When the earring was done pairing, it spoke in her ear, and she shrieked in delight :) That was unexpected validation.
Excellent point, one doesn't need an earphone that looks like traditional jewellery if the earphone is already fulfilling the purpose of traditional jewellery.
Earrings can also signal higher status than Airpods; any middle-class schlub can spend $250 on earbuds. That pales next to the numbers that earrings made from precious metals and gems can quietly whisper to anyone who notices them.
Not everybody chooses what they wear with other people's opinions in mind. Some people might find this incomprehensible, but I'm not sure how to convince them otherwise.
Sorry, I couldn't resist. In fact I admire and agree with what you said.
I fear that I will notice the room is smaller, after that coating of paint.
I'm worried that now I'm signalling, that I'm not signalling, which is signalling now. Maybe.
So I support you, fellow non-signalling, and non-non-signalling kin! Yes, you can have paintings, just because you like them.
(Please don't tell me that I'm signalling by non-non-signalling!)
That's also true with lots of other fashion accessories.
It's definitely true with headphones as well. Aesthetics were an enormous part of the Beats brand, and a bunch of other headphone companies. If aesthetics weren't important, you'd see more people walking around with monoprice headphones.
Although Baby Boomers are horrified by the style, it is acceptable these days to have large 'plugs' worn in the ears lobes with them being nothing more than valueless plastic.
If you could have built in headphones then there would be a good reason to stretch one's ears and add industrial barbells.
The stretched ears people that are around today will be needing hearing aids one day. This might be decades away, and they might not present a huge market, however, there is plenty of time to develop some hearing aids just for them.
Can you possibly make the dangling part swappable so that you have amazing combinations of mix and match possibilities. Somewhat like the Apple Watch.
All day wearing comfort is another factor I'd focus on.
This opens up a whole new market - you could go bananas with the materials and options. Gold, precious stones and what not.
Also, I hope the actual BT headphone part is made by someone who knows what they're doing, or they'll be more trouble than they're worth.
One question not answered here, do you need your ears pierced?
It's only logical :)
But then I'm not the potential customer, the missus may be and I didn't ask her opinion yet.
When I told her you have to join the club to order the "WANT" changed to "I don't need, thanks" :)
Nonetheless, fantastic idea and good work.
I'd miss all of my earrings terribly though :( Maybe someday the components could be small enough that a cute cuff would be possible.
WThe audio module can be worn with tiny stud earrings, but then the audio module shows. It still retains many of its advantages, except the tech is obvious in that case.
To me, this is the kind of thing you'd see in a kid's spy kit toy. It's tacky, and in my opinion, destined to fail hard - if they even make it to market.
While I'm sure you have some good design acumen, I'm with others in making sure that the visible part is an easy-to-integrate standard so you're not a blocker on the fashion side. I'll happily pay a premium price for the BT side of it, but you're not going to be able to produce enough variety to suit everybody's tastes. If I can have my jeweler create custom fittings, then I can make them whatever I want.
But - the missus is fond of wearing white gold, gold filigree, maybe some earrings with sapphires. I don't expect that she's necessarily in the initial market you'll be addressing.
While I can imagine you'll have a variety of styles, you won't be able to produce enough styles to match the breadth of the market. It would be a shame if your growth were capped by how many axes of preference you could address with your limited resources. You definitely want enough to bootstrap the market (and you mentioned that part of your business plan was to be able to sell additional earrings to repeat customers), but I suspect the long game is in creating and licensing the standards for mating the active components and the earrings. Other companies may be taking part of the pie, but as long as it keeps growing exponentially, there's plenty for everyone.
Why not keep it simple, to get the core point addressed?
"Can I make my own earrings and use it with this module"
"Yes or no"
Adding additionals means the question, or answer, becomes less clear.
Nonetheless, great job and goodluck!
If they’ll deliver, and sell enough of these, and unless they’ll be acquired by Apple and shut down, pretty sure we’ll see gender neutral models to follow.
"Are these earphones or earrings? Yes!"
Perhaps we need a standard mechanical connection so that jewelry can be made to attach to any brand of ear pod.
If you break the (mild for some) earring stigma, and even further the dangling earring fashion stigma for men, you'd be making history.
And a tech product might just do that.
The difference between a pure ad and a cool showing is that the first one shows the entire face of the woman to trigger psychological buying - a technique that works on both sexes. A cool bragging would've shown only the ear, no pretty face.
Hence, it's a shameless ad, that should not be atop of HN.
And you can't discriminate against pretty faces :) Just because our model is good looking doesn't translate to negative points on the the coolness of our product. Not that I am saying it is cool. That's upto the folks on HN to decide. But in sharing something I made, and that I am enthusiastic about, I don't owe anyone some arbitrary level of coolness.
So for you personally I only have congratulations, you managed to game HN. And the amount of downvotes I received for calling it an ad it shows they still continue to chew on your bait.