The Zipi is a Kickstarter project that appears humble and almost silly on the surface, but that actually solves one of the biggest problems I have with day-to-day use of earbud headphones. I use earbuds whenever I leave the house, because exposing yourself to the noise of streets and other human beings going about their business is unconscionable, but getting them out of the way when you want to interact with people is a pain.
To solve this, the Zipi adds an around-the-neck strap to any existing pair of earbuds, with a simple magnetic clip-on design. It connects via magnets at the back of your neck, separates easily enough when you want to remove them entirely, and prevents your earbuds from just falling to the ground when you take them out of your ears.
Ordinarily when I remove earbuds on the go, I awkwardly throw them over one shoulder or roll them up and stuff them in a pocket. In scenario one, they almost always sneak off my shoulders and find their way to the floor where I step on them. In scenario two, getting them off and then putting them back on again amounts to a full-scale production, which is extremely annoying if you also happen to be carrying any bags or coffee or whatever.
I can still foresee potential issues with coat collars and other jazz with the Zipi, but it looks favorable when compared with the terrible, unending nightmare that is my current state of earbud cord management. Plus they’re only $6 per unit at the introductory early backer price, and they don’t seem to require any kind of advanced engineering that could cause innumerable shipping delays.
Project creator Frank Cho has a Master’s degree from MIT in AI, as well as a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in computer graphics, so he’s clearly got a good head on his shoulders. He makes no secret about the fact that the Zipi is his first foray into product design, but he has a realistic timeframe for delivery of early September and a fully functional prototype already built, so here’s hoping the Zipi meets its modest $6,000 funding goal.