Nothing, the new consumer tech hardware company from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has unveiled what could be its first pair of wireless earbuds. And, with see-through casing plus some stumpy, AirPods Pro-style stems, it’s a mix of the familiar and the fantastical.
The Nothing blog (opens in new tab), written by Pei, names the product Concept 1, and pointedly calls it “a first expression of our design principles.” Between that and the name, this is seemingly more of a prototype design than a close-to-final product — though it does give us an idea of what to expect from Nothing, which until now has taken a more guarded approach to its upcoming projects.
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Of course, Pei had previously revealed the company would start with a pair of wireless earbuds, but beyond that details were non-existent. Now we at least have a concept design, and it’s a very unique one. According to the blog post, the Concept 1 “takes inspiration from a grandmother’s tobacco pipe.” Presumably it's a very forward-thinking grandmother as it appears to be made of either glass or transparent plastic, with components visible within.
From the angle it’s hard to tell whether the Concept 1 is aiming for a one-size-fits-all approach, like the standard Apple AirPods, or will feature replaceable in-ear tips like the AirPods Pro and most of the other best wireless earbuds currently on the market.
It all starts with design, the soul of a product: https://t.co/n2lPLdCAP4 pic.twitter.com/i9YbsNUuJNMarch 9, 2021
As for those design principles, Pei explained that the Concept 1 is built to be weightless, effortless and timeless. The “weightless” part refers to the simplicity of the design: pipe jokes aside it is very compact and minimalist. Nothing is also apparently focusing on streamlining and simplifying the user experience, which may end up reflected in the earbuds’ control scheme, and favors “shapes that look natural and warm, yet don’t easily feel outdated.”
Again, this is overtly a concept design, so could change faster than the company’s “timeless” tenet might suggest. But the Concept 1 does have an interesting look, and it will be interesting to see how much of it will make it to the final version.
We’ll find out in a matter of months, as Pei signed off the post by revealing Nothing’s “first products” would launch in Summer. That also suggests we could see more Nothing hardware in addition to the promised buds, which might be a smart move on the company’s part. With the AirPods 3 rumored to release this year as well, the Concept 1 could have a fight on its see-through hands.
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