Swedish audio company Urbanista says it will soon announce the world’s first wireless active noise-cancelling solar-powered earbuds.
The company already has a pair of solar-powered over-the-ear headphones, the Urbanista Los Angeleswhich londonbusinessblog.com honored in the 2022 World Changing Ideas list. And while solar over-ear headphones are indeed a good idea, solar earbuds may be even better: earbuds are typically used for mobile activities like running or exercising, where access to electrical power sources may be less convenient.
“We started working on it last October when we started working on the Los Angeles product,” said Tuomas Lonka, Urbanista’s brand and marketing director. “When we announced that product in the spring last year, we got a great response, so we knew early on that we wanted to make an in-ear product as well.”
The earphones themselves do not carry solar cells; that responsibility rests with the charging case, which is continuously charged by exposure to all forms of outdoor or indoor light, said Giovanni Fili, CEO of Exeger, the Swedish company that supplied the case’s solar cell. In fact, there’s probably no need for cords and cables (yet Urbanista has placed a USB-C charging port on the case, just in case). The companies say the earphones can play music for eight hours on a single charge, and the charging case can provide enough power for 32 hours of play.
“With climate change, we feel like we’re contributing to a better world in our small way,” Fili says. “Our customers want to help change the world and we find ways to help them do it without compromising their lifestyle.”
Urbanista’s Phoenix earplugs offer some passive noise cancellation, which results from the silicone tips that shut out outside noise by forming a seal at the opening of the ear canal. The active noise cancellation relies on six small microphones to analyze ambient noise, then some audio processing to eliminate even more background noise. Reducing ambient noise can dramatically improve the sound quality of phone calls and music playback. The Phoenix earbuds have a transparency mode that allows ambient sound to enter the ear, allowing the wearer to hear other people’s voices or remain aware of potential threats such as traffic. (londonbusinessblog.com hasn’t received a unit rating from Urbanista yet, so I can’t vouch for the Phoenix’s noise-canceling capabilities.)
The Phoenix phones have in-ear detection, which means the earbuds know when they’re not in your ears and can make sure they don’t accidentally receive phone calls or other phone activity. In-ear detection probably also saves battery charge in the earbuds, as does the auto-off feature.
The earbuds have a multipoint connectivity feature that allows them to connect to two audio sources. They also offer the ability to control playback by tapping the outside of the earbuds.
The Phoenix earphones, which will be released in the fourth quarter, will cost $149 and will be available in black and pink.