This is the story of how AirCurve was born.
It started with a cupped hand. One of our software designers noticed how much better he could hear his iPhone’s built-in speaker when he cupped his hand around the bottom of the iPhone. What surprised him was HOW MUCH better he was able to hear it.
After sharing his finding with some other people around the office, a small cardboard scoop was fashioned to replicate the effect of his hand. The end result was a laughable combination of cardboard and duct tape that did more to remind them why they were software designers than help amplify the sound coming from the iPhone.
As the initial humor of it wore off, someone pointed out that the make-shift device resembled an old gramophone, and the idea of an acoustic amplifier began taking shape. Before long, doodles turned into sketches, which became an engineered paper horn. The copy-paper horn sounded surprisingly good, grabbing the attention of product development, and the project officially took off.
The first dock variation came off the 3D printer, and after the “amusingly difficult” task of removing printer debris, the team discovered the funneled and more airtight dock design improved the sound quality. Now was the time to apply a little math – yes, there really is a formula to this.
A continuously increasing width in the canal was expected to greatly improve sound quality. It didn’t at first, but the fit was updated, the design tweaked, and a little more math was applied to fine tune the shape. A couple different materials were experimented with, and the fit was updated to maximize connection with the iPhone.
The final AirCurve design takes into account how we expect people will want to use it. It has a dock well that accommodates both iPhone and iPhone 3G and a soft rubber gasket to minimize audio loss. The translucent plastic highlights the ear canal-inspired wave guide, and you can insert a dock cable into it and charge/sync your iPhone from your computer or charger while it sits on your nightstand. But the best part is that you can use it as a desktop speaker, and you don’t have to plug anything into anything.
A truly acoustic amplifier for iPhone…and it all started with with a cupped hand.
Check out Cali Lewis’ review of AirCurve on Geekbrief.TV (at about 2:00). Enjoy.
The story continues. A new AirCurve is born….