This month marks the 40th anniversary of Sony’s first Walkman, the portable music player that would forever change the way we consume music. And while the audio cassette long ago fell out of favor for the CD and later digital music, the format’s certainly not forgotten. It may not have the same audiophile cache as the vinyl LP, but a a small and passionate contingent of music listeners are keeping the fire burning.
NINM Lab’s latest project occupies that same sort of fuzzy technological limbo as past products like the I’m Fine single-use camera. It’s also got a name to match: It’s OK. In this age of political unrest and global disasters, maybe that’s exactly the message we need right now. As for a Bluetooth cassette player, it’s probably true that nobody needs such a thing; hyper-specific products are one of the nice byproducts of late capitalism.
The product bridges the seemingly insurmountable gap between state of the art 80s tech and AirPods with Bluetooth 5.0 functionality, with a fittingly retro design that’s a nod to the era’s Walkmen. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack on board, giving it a leg up on the latest generation of smartphones.
The device hits Kickstarter today, with pre-orders starting at $63, making it pricey for a cassette player, but cheap compared to other Bluetooth-enabled devices. As is the nature of Kickstarter projects, prices only go up from there. Cassette tapes, on the other hand, can be found in bountiful quantities at your neighborhood Goodwill.