With the rise of 3d printers, designers, engineers, and DIYers have more room for experimentation in product design. It allows us to create with more diversity, to bring products to market faster, and ultimately to inject a little more energy and fun into product design. “Infest” is a manifestation of this last aspect.
Infest takes the utility of a set of an in-ear headphones and combines it with the form of an earwig, a chitinous creature, the very last thing you want in your ear. This illicits a response from the casual observer, hopefully causing them to perform a stop take on seeing this bizarre piece of musical expression.
When I was a child, and was first introduced to an earwig, I was convinced that they could only be called “earwig” because they had a penchant for making their homes in peoples ears (and obviously eating whatever they found there). Their chitinous armour and evil looking pincers terrified me. Needless to say, I checked under my pillow every night for months afterwards just in case. Now, I still find earwigs a little intimidating, but also a little bit cute. I am no longer quite so paranoid as my child self, now I only check the pillows every so often.
The headphones employ 13mm speakers. The speakers are installed and accessed using the earwig's friction-fit thorax. The earwig also has a tunnel down through its centre to run the speaker wire . As such, assembling the product should be very easy, and require only minor soldering.
Why I am entering prototype to product:
3d printing is doing wonderful things for rapid iterations of designs. It allows us to experience alternate forms of a finished product to understand tactility, comfort and ergonomics, as well as how the product will interact with its environment. On top of this, 3d printing also offers the opportunity to create products which may only service a very small market, or to try the market before investing in larger production runs. Traditionally, these products and trials would have been unfeasible, but thanks to 3d printing the barriers to entry continue to fall.
I see Infest as one of these later products. The market for products like this tend to be small. However, the target audience is passionate individuals who like unique products that speak to their personality. With the help of the Formlabs and Shapeways, I hope to be able to improve on the initial model. Subsequent iterations will help to achieve the right size and balance, ensure that the friction fit system is reliable and fits securely, and experiment with smaller speaker sizes, which will allow me to explore a smaller and more user friendly version of infest