Apple's AirPods are a tragedy. Ecologically, socially, economically—they're a capitalist disaster (or success story, depending how you look at capitalist endeavors in general). The batteries in the $160 wireless earbuds die within a year and a half, at which point they become useless.
The opposite of Airpods, then, is this extremely punk pair of DIY wireless earbuds that someone on Reddit hacked together using an old pair of wired Apple headphones and some hot glue.
"I started this project roughly two months ago when my friend got a new pair of AirPods for his birthday and I thought to myself, 'that’s quite a lot of money for something I can make at home,'" Sam Cashbook, who is 15, told me in a Reddit message.
Cashook started watching videos of people making their own AirPods, but mostly found people chopping the wires off of Apple headphones as a joke. He decided to take his own approach.
He bought a hands-free bone conduction headset from eBay (which transfers the sound vibrations from the bones outside your ear, to the inner ear), and took apart the casing to reveal the electronics. Then, he desoldered the wires from the original speaker in the headset, and connected his old Apple earbud speaker to the headset's printed circuit board.
"I replaced the battery with something a little bigger and hot glued it all together (definitely not the best approach)," he said. Voilà, AirPods. Maybe a little uglier, but the headphones work well, he said. The set has buttons for power, pausing music, volume controls and skipping tracks, and the battery is rechargeable.
"This project was really fun and only cost me around four dollars, and helped me improve my soldering skills for smaller components," he said. "I encourage people to make cool things like this!"
And I, for one, encourage people to hack and repair and repurpose their electronics so they may never again need to buy into a system of wasteful class symbolism and status posturing dictated by the biggest companies in the world. Just be careful not to zap your brain if you decide to try this yourself.