#211: Handed earpieces

I’m sick to death of having to squint at the minute ‘R’ and ‘L’ symbols borne by the earpieces on my MP3 player, before plugging them into the relevant orifices.

I can understand that product designers don’t much enjoy the prospect of printing the orientation letters in a very large font. So today’s invention is an alternative.


First, for those people who live in countries where English is not the lingua franca, the symbols carried on the earpieces should simply be iconic versions of the user’s hands, orientated so that it would be obvious which went where.

Second, the hand icons might be considered inelegant if applied to the earpiece stems in the usual way and so I’d suggest printing them on the foam pads. This allows them to be quite sizeable and yet completely hidden when worn.

The solution I’d really like is for the earpieces to be completely symmetrical and for them to actively detect which was placed in which ear before delivering the right stereo sound (It might be achieved by reacting to the pressure distribution generated by contact with each ear, or simply by having the user always insert one earpiece first).

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