Most people never forget their smartphone when they leave the house, but an accompanying set of earbuds can be a different story. Unfortunately, even when people do remember to bring them along, the cords tend to end up a twisted bundle at the bottom of their pocket or bag. A pair of designers may have a simple solution with the TurtleCell iPhone case, which features retractable earbuds so you always have a tangle-free set of headphones handy.
The two earbuds and winding mechanism fit unobtrusively into the case, only adding about 6 mm of thickness and 25 mm of height to an iPhone 5 when attached. When users want to listen to audio through the headphones, they just push a button on the left side and pull the earbuds out. The cable fully extends about 1.2 m (4 ft) and can lock in place, giving a person enough room to listen to some music with their phone safely in a pocket. Pushing that same button a second time will retract the cable back into the case for storage.
According to the developers, the earbuds share similar specs with the ones produced by Apple, and a comparable set would normally cost about US$40. Unfortunately, the TurtleCell case has been built specifically for the earbuds that are included, so you won't be able to swap in your own pair. A second button on the right of the case also connects and disconnects the headphones entirely, in case you want to use the phone's regular speakers or take a call.
For now, the TurtleCell is only compatible with the iPhone 5 and iPod Touch (5th gen), but the developers plan to adapt the design to other smartphones in the future. They also recently added an optional microphone and volume controls, but at a slightly higher cost and only for the blue and black colored cases
Right now, the designers are running a Kickstarter campaign to bring the TurtleCell case into production. Anyone who contributes US$50 or more can pre-order one in black, white, blue, green, or pink. The regular cases are expected to ship in December, while the ones with a microphone should release in March of 2014.
Check out the video below to see a very infomercial-like demonstration of the TurtleCell case.