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Stand-alone earbud player puts the bite on music

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October 4, 2013

Split is controlled by gentle 'bite clicks'

Split is controlled by gentle 'bite clicks'

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Want to listen to music in public but not be obvious about it? Until someone figures out how to make music play in your head, the next best thing might be Split. Developed by Greenwing Audio in Miami Beach. Florida, Split is a music player set in a pair of wireless, synchronized earbuds that are controlled by biting. Still under development, its the focus of a Kickstarter campaign running until October 31 to bring the player to market.

An mp3 player has a lot going for it. It’s portable, it’s convenient, and you can move your entire music collection in a way that once took a crew of moving men and a van. But the biggest drawback is the headphone cords. They tangle, they break, they get caught in things, and are a nightmare when scarves come into the picture. And then there’s the player itself, which always needs a pocket.

Two years under development, Split is aimesd at eliminating the problems of cords and players by eliminating cords and players themselves. At first, it seems like something a bit silly: A pair of earbuds with little oblongs sticking out of them, but inside a one-inch stainless steel casing is a tiny, 100-micron thick circuit board with a NOR Flash memory chip with a capacity from 64MB to 256MB, an ARM Cortex M3 32-bit processor, and a 3-axis accelerometer folded in on itself three times, a button cell battery, a earbud speaker with a 6-mm Neodymium Dynamic Driver.

Exploded view of Split

The obvious question is, how do two earbuds act like one music player? The answer, according to the developers, is that the Split earbuds are synchronized. Unlike a Bluetooth headset, Split uses high-precision crystal clocks and a short, near-field radio signal to sync the earbuds when activating, or when the track or volume are changed.

Not having any buttons or microphone for voice command, Split uses its accelerometers for control. These are designed to respond when the user bites. One bite, even a soft “bite click,” changes tracks, and two bites changes the volume, cycling through low, medium, high and muted volume settings. The volume control can also be used to place the player on standby.

Obviously, this can be a problem if you’re eating, chew gum. or grind your teeth, so tapping the right earbud deactivates the control. Using the included software, the volume and control modes can be customized. You can even set a particular volume for particular tracks.

The developers say that Split works with most audio formats and is compatible with both Windows and Mac systems. At the current state of development, the Split earbuds hook up to one USB cable for programming and a second for charging, though the developers hope to combine these two functions in the near future.

Deactivating the bite control only requires tapping the earbud

As far as aesthetics go, Split is available in red, though pearl, purple, citrus (is that orange, yellow or green? – Ed) and black will be available later, if demand warrants it. In the meantime, they are available as an option at the higher Kickstarter campaign reward levels.

The current Kickstarter campaign is aimed at bringing the current design to production standard, including the completion of the USB design, finalizing the software, modifications to the casing, user testing, and development for mass production.

Split is offering Split on Kickstarter for a US$155 pledge.

Source: Kickstarter via endgadget

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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7 Comments

Love it! How do you eliminate the wires? SEND THE SIGNAL RIGHT THROUGH YOUR BRAIN!!!

Nice, too, that they thought of keeping the signal level LOW. Probably a good idea.

Anne Ominous
4th October, 2013 @ 01:33 am PDT

I wish it was bluetooth, this was feature on Kickstarter but then I found out you have to download music into it and also have to use propriety program to sync the music between two ear. So, too much of a hassle. I like the biting control feature though.

phissith
4th October, 2013 @ 08:21 am PDT

no thanks, I prefer to not have to keep putting new songs on a bunch of devices. I prefer to just have it sync to my phone, a device that pretty much everybody already has on them, at all times. That way, you only have to keep all your music on your phone, or using a streaming app like Pandora.

It also never mentioned how many gb's of songs this can hold.

It's a new take on headphones, but just not for me.

Derek Howe
4th October, 2013 @ 09:03 am PDT

Great idea, but not enough storage.

Dave Lorde
4th October, 2013 @ 09:39 am PDT

WAY too much work and technology to eliminate a piece of wire.

I also don't like the ideal of sending yet MORE RF directly through your brain.

jjsmail
4th October, 2013 @ 01:08 pm PDT

As an electroacoustic engineer I am virtually certain it is a fraud. You can't get there from here.

DonGateley
4th October, 2013 @ 08:02 pm PDT

Looks that this product is so out of this world that few of people understood what is about, at least this is what I see from comments.

@ Anne Ominous, jjsmail - Yes the device SEND THE SIGNAL RIGHT THROUGH YOUR BRAIN but only to synchronize the two player, maybe a handful of times during a play.

@ Derek Howe - You're right they never mentioned how many gb's of songs this can hold, because it will hold only 64 to 256 MB, nobody knows any more what a MB means in GB era.

@ DonGateley - for an electroacoustic engineer I am virtually certain that you have no idea how this wonderful design works.

Unfortunately the Kickstarter campaign doesn't work that well and might fail, but Greenwing Audio should try to come with a second version with some improvements:

1 - try to increase the storage to 2 GB.

2 - update the dynamic drive to a balanced armature drive - ( more expensive, yet better quality and power efficiency)

3 - integrate a Bluetooth with burst transfer in order to allow the user to change easily what they are listening. Might overcome the issue with limited storage.

4 - Integrate a microphone, nobody wants a separate hands-free for the smartphone.

5 - if necessary make it bigger.

Keep up the good work.

ClauS
6th October, 2013 @ 01:20 pm PDT
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