Nov 21, 2017 | By Benedict

GENERICS, a Lebanese startup backed by the UK government, has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its 3D printed earphone solution. Users take a smartphone video of their ears, upload it to the GENERICS app, and then receive a custom pair of 3D printed earphones fitted to their ears.

Chunky, Beats-style headphones might still dominate the personal music landscape, but there’s still room in the game (and your backpack) for classic earphones—the kind that became synonymous with the classic iPod in the early years of the 21st century.

But however practical these tiny earphones are, many people simply can’t use them: if your inner ear isn’t the right shape for these little bits of plastic, the buds will simply fall out, making it impossible to listen to music while walking or jogging.

Many people see customized earphones as the solution. If a bud can be customized to the shape of the wearer’s ear, it’s much less likely to fall out and comfort can also be increased.

And 3D printing can help realize that customization. We’ve already seen such an approach from companies like Ultimate Ears, Normal, and earnotz, but now there’s a new contender: GENERICS.

Supported by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub (UKLTH), a joint initiative between Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s Central Bank, and the UK Government, GENERICS has developed a premium earphone solution that “solve[s] the problem of poor fitting, uncomfortable earphones” without costing much more than one would expect to pay for regular earphones.

The solution involves the customer before production even starts, because GENERICS aims to produce a customized pair of silicone earphones for each buyer.

The process starts with the GENERICS app, which users can download to their smartphone in order to take a video of the inside of their ears. This video is then sent to GENERICS HQ, where the company uses regeneration software algorithms, 3D printers, and advanced materials to produce a custom-fitting pair of earphones.

Each pair is made from medical-grade soft silicone—the kind used in hearing aids—which is injected into a 3D printed mold designed from the user-recorded video. The custom earphones are then fitted with tiny Sonion speakers.

“GENERICS’ design, coupled with Denmark’s Sonion speakers outperformed market leaders in lab sound testing,” says GENERICS Managing Director Bassel Idriss. “If you appreciate hearing prominent instruments in the mix, want clarity and definition in the vocals, sparkle and air in your overall sound, then GENERICS are for you.”

Other useful features of the earphones include an initial engraving option, passive noise canceling, a rotating bezel, a nylon reinforced cable, and gold-plated right-angle jack.

“Normally, personalized tailor-made earphones via the traditional method involve getting an appointment with an audiologist, getting ear impressions taken, paying a lot of money (starting at $500), and waiting up to two weeks to receive a pair of great fitting earphones,” Idriss says.

“Using our app and proprietary image processing algorithms, we can short-circuit that whole process and get your custom earphones shipped to you within five days of an order and at around 25 per cent of the current custom earphone market entry price.”

Before the earphones go on general sale, GENERICS is launching a Kickstarter campaign for its 3D printed product. The crowdfunding effort has already raised almost half of its £20,000 ($26,500) goal, with an early bird deal giving backers the chance to buy the earphones for £55 ($73), 45 per cent off retail price.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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