A fledgling tech company from the US is attempting to fix the problem of tangled earphone cables once and for all with Split: a stand-alone MP3 player that is just a pair of earphones, without buttons or cables of any sort.
In lieu of any conventional interface, Split is operated by biting, with the earphones sensing the vibrations of even a gentle bite. One bite skips a track, whilst two bites cycle the volume between four options: mute, low, medium and high.
“The teeth bite creates a vibration pulse that travels along the jawbone. The vibration has a distinctive signature which is detected by a custom-built 3-axis accelerometer,” say the Split’s makers.
To avoid accidently skipping your favourite song when you tuck into your lunch, the bite-controls can also be locked by tapping the side of the earphones.
“You are able to control your player without stopping what you’re doing. Keep your gloves on in the cold; walk, bike, jump, exercise without cables, dongles or external attachments. All you need is right there in your ears.”
The Split’s stripped-down approach to interfaces also applies to connectors: there are no USB ports, mini or otherwise, and instead a pair of magnets handle most of the necessary functions.
The magnets keep the two buds in one place, sticking them together when not in use. Pulling them apart turns the device on and the magnets are also used to charge it via a special USB cable.
The two earphones communicate with one another using short bursts of near-field signals (these are electromagnetic transmissions that emit around 1000 times less radiation than Bluetooth) but actually operate independently, with the music kept in sync with “high precision clocks”.
The three-person team behind the Split are currently looking for funding for their project via Kickstarter (see the video below) but are promising that the production version will store up to 24 songs and offer four hours of battery life.