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User Experience: Earbuds

With the world only getting busier, we need some earbuds that can tune everything out.

Earbuds. I, like many people, use them everyday. They let me listen to my music in peace, they connect me with people all over the world, and they give me information with a simple question. But are they doing enough? What improvements do earbuds need?

A new kind of earbud

Walking through the large and dense New York City streets, I arrived at the magnificent glass cube of an Apple store on Fifth Avenue. I had stumbled here numerous times before, but that day, I struggled to even recognize the store due to the swarms of people lining up outside it. I looked up to the cloudy skies and recognized three large words in bold – “Wireless. Effortless. Magical”.  

Walking through the crowded streets of New York to get new earbuds

Looking back on the first AirPod launch day seems so distant. Since then, the state of wireless earbuds and connectivity has changed so much. Through years of iterations, the AirPods, too, have evolved in a fashion that keeps consumers loyal to them. Currently, they are the most popular audio accessory on the market, and their sales go up by the millions annually. My father, aberrant to complicated technologies, owns and regularly uses a pair. What makes this product so alluring to the public? In my opinion, I would say the connectivity. AirPods offer extremely seamless connectivity as soon as the case is opened. They instantly connect when worn, which is what first kickstarted their popularity. Other than that, Apple has a unique focus on design: simplicity. The AirPods look simple while functioning seamlessly. Furthermore, Apple maintains amazing quality control that is beyond the standards of other companies. 

With the success of the Airpod, numerous copy-cat devices sprung up, utilizing the design without matching the ability. The most obvious shortcoming is, sadly, the most important one: their microphones. No matter how nice the earbud is, a bad microphone drags a product down. Oftentimes, when I need to have an online meeting, I will intentionally take my earbuds off so that the sound quality is better on my side of the video. Most other users I know have done this as well. The issue is that the microphone gives off a lot of static and is very distorted in noisy circumstances. In addition to these problems, the microphone also makes one’s speech seem unclear when talking through the phone.

The improvement you didn’t know you need

This is where Soundskrit, the first directional MEMS microphone company, comes in. We can first address the obvious: why Soundskrit will be the best in producing microphones for small devices, like earbuds. MEMS technologies are not new, and while they are changing daily, we are the first company to make high performance directional MEMS microphones. The aspect of design that’s difficult to navigate when producing a product such as earbuds is array capability. For those that are unfamiliar, you need an array of multiple microphones for normal earbuds in order to produce good sound. For earbuds, that just isn’t possible with traditional microphone arrays which require large amounts of space – unwieldy for earbuds, headphones, and the sort. Soundskrit’s MEMS microphones replace the need for an array.

Our products listen to us through the MEMS microphones embedded in the device. When we speak, the sound waves travel to the microphone and they sense it as pressure. This is how people sense sound. We speak to other people, and their ears sense the pressure and send signals to the brain as understandable information. While this is common for humans and a small number of animals, this is not how many beings sense sound.

The spider, the inspiration for our MEMS microphones

This other side of nature, specifically the spider, is what inspired Soundskrit. A spider uses the extremely sensitive and thin hairs on its leg to sense the velocity at which the sound is being produced. This is their mechanism for communication and protection in the wild. In the case of spider hairs, when sound waves push air parallel to the hairs, they will not move, and the spider will not sense anything. When the air is pushed across the hairs, spiders can sense the closeness of predators.

This is precisely how Soundskrit is engineering our microphones. We aim to produce microphones that are directional, providing the best microphone for the customer. You have an urgent Zoom meeting and have a huge family gathering happening right next to you? No problem. Your coworkers won’t hear a single thing.

Hard work paying off

The truth is that the seamless Bluetooth functionality of all earbuds on the market currently can be replicated and improved. Bluetooth functionality is given such focus that designers forget the importance of sound. Wouldn’t you like to control what kinds of sounds your earbuds pickup? Imagine an earbud that can focus on important sounds, where a directional beam only picks up sounds in front of you as it ignores sounds from behind you.

By bringing the capability of an array into a single MEMS microphone, consumers can get the sound that they desire. This – the time and research that Soundskrit is currently putting into our work, all to make amazing earbuds for hard-working, driven people in the future – cannot be replicated. Imagine, taking a call in a noisy gym or online meeting and you won’t have to hear your friends and coworkers complain about the background noise. That’s the dream that Soundskrit engineers work towards. Well, maybe that’s not THE dream, but it’s a dream.

For more information on how our microphones work, check out our technology page!