Last year Dhaval Tanna, a software engineer based in New Zealand, got together with a few developer friends for a reunion in San Francisco. Before long they were griping over the experience of working in an open office environment, where a tap on the shoulder can pull you away from your work even if you have a pair of earbuds firmly planted in your ears.
Those earbuds should be enough to let the outside world know you were hard at work, but clearly they aren’t enough. And most of the time pulling off your earbuds for a quick chat means missing a chunk of the song or podcast you’re listening to. So Tanna came up with a solution, teaming up with Dutch industrial designer Bas van Hoeve along the way to create a clever new pair of earbuds.
The result is SenCbuds, and they’re available on Kickstarter now.
SenCbuds solve both of the issues outlined by Tanna. A small light on the outside of both buds lets your co-workers know you don’t want to be disturbed. The right earbud also packs a special sensor that can tell when you pull it out of your ear and pauses whatever you’re listening to automatically. As soon as you put the earbud back in it will start back up too.
There are a few drawbacks to packing all that technology into a pair of earbuds. SenCbuds aren’t wireless but they still require an extra battery to work. The battery lasts a full 17 days per charge, though, and it doesn’t add that much bulk to the control module.
The controller is also pretty cool with a unique circular design that’s perfect for wrapping up the wires so they don’t get tangled during travel. It sports buttons for volume, muting/unmuting and answering an incoming call. There’s also a small switch for jumping between Android or iOS depending on what device you’re using at the time.
You can pre-order SenCbuds on Kickstarter for as little as $50 and they should be ready to ship in October. That’s about half the planned retail price, though it could become cheaper in the future as sensor costs come down.
Tanna’s also planning a second-generation version with modular support so you can switch between a regular 3.5mm port and a Lightning plug. But before that can happen he needs to get this version crowd-funded first.