Wireless earbuds concept suggests a novel and weird way to clean it

Wireless earbuds, particularly the so-called True Wireless Stereo or TWS earbuds, have now become a common sight, in no small part thanks to Apple retiring the headphone jack and pushing the AirPods as a solution. These accessories come in different shapes and sizes, but the one common design they share is that the buds are enclosed in a container that acts as their charger as well. As any user of these tiny buds has experienced by now, both the buds and their are often exposed to dirt and grime that could become a health issue over time. Cleaning the earbuds themselves might be trivial, but when that dirt gets deep inside the case, the task becomes significantly more difficult. This concept tries to solve that problem by practically overhauling the charging case design, and it takes inspiration from the weirdest source to implement the strangest cleaning method.

Designer: Seungjae Lee

For TWS earbuds that store the buds’ stems vertically like with the Apple AirPods, the charging cases have a small and deep tunnel where dirt and bacteria can get in and fester. It’s not impossible to clean but it does take some effort, requiring you to really stop and use some tools to wipe the dirt deep inside. If only you could blow the dust and dirt away quickly when you need to, just like with many other objects you might have with you.

The Double Barrel Bluetooth Earbuds concept offers that convenience by turning the charging case into two hollow tubes with openings on both ends. The inspiration for this design was, apparently, a double-barrel shotgun, which is probably the last thing you’d expect to associate with non-violent wireless earbuds. As a visual embellishment, inserting and removing the earbuds would light up LEDs inside the barrel, as if you were shooting bullets.

For this to work, however, the buds themselves have to be straight, which would have been awkward to wear inside our ears. The concept proposes to make the tips foldable so they would take the form of typical earbuds that you can comfortably wear in your ears. And because of the double-ended opening, you can actually put in or remove the buds in either direction.

While the concept design is definitely interesting, it is based on the rather shaky premise that cleaning the earbuds case by blowing into them is actually a smart idea. Our breaths aren’t exactly clean and, more importantly, they also carry with them small saliva particles that could damage the charging contacts inside. And by keeping both ends open, the case would actually invite even more dirt and particles inside, making regular cleaning even more of a chore.