July 09, 2014, 6:15 AM —
When I was a kid I did a lot of snorkeling. Back then (and maybe still, for all I know), 'state-of-the-art' snorkels had customizable mouthpieces. You'd drop the plastic mouthpiece in boiling water for 30 seconds to soften it, then stick it in your mouth and bite down. The plastic would hold the imprint of your teeth and would re-harden as it cooled and voila, you had a snorkel mouthpiece you could hold comfortably in your mouth for hours.
I was reminded of those snorkel mouthpieces when I was reading about Normal earbuds yesterday. Normal's hook is that each earbud is customized to the shape of your ear. Technology advances though, and instead of sticking a gob of hot plastic into your ear, with Normal you take a photo with an app. Using some magic that they're holding close to their vest, Normal says they can take those photos (one for each ear) and 3D print an earbud that will fit perfectly.
Here's a somewhat creepy video that probably will put you right off Normal earbuds:
Apparently having custom-made earbuds isn't a new thing, it's just much cheaper and more convenient with Normal. According to a post on The Verge the traditional way of getting custom-fit earbuds is to have a doctor fill your ear canal with silicone and then paying $500-$2000 for them. That's closer to hot plastic in your ear than I would ever have imagined.
Normal earbuds cost $200, and in addition to the custom fit, you can pick a color for the various parts and have your name engraved in the carrying case. Pretty swanky! Once everything is up and rolling, and thanks to Normal's army of 3D printers, your earbuds should be shipping 48 hours after you place your order.
Of course while comfort is important, so is sound quality. So how do Normals sound? Well we don't know yet. Normal says:
The personalized fit allows a more precise delivery of sound. Built with high quality drivers and components, Normals offer a premium listening experience
Bottom line, we'll have to wait for reviews to know for sure. If you're willing to risk it, grab the app for iOS or Android and start taking pics of your ears. If you decide to take the plunge, please let us know how it goes. Selfishly I'd love to hear if these are comfortable (and safe) to sleep in. I've been looking into various earphone sleeping options ever since the people in the apartment next door had a baby who tends to cry in the wee hours!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.