When you first get to try Xperia Ear, it is likely you’ll notice a few things. First off, it knows when it is in your ear. Pretty clever. More than that though, it is much more comfortable than you’d expect.
Realising this you’ll probably start shaking you head, and jumping up and down to see how easily it falls out and, well, it doesn’t.
To get to the bottom of how this is possible we got in touch with Yusuke Otani, designer of the Xperia Ear. Otani-san has spent more than a decade at Sony HQ in Tokyo working on everything from tablets to TVs, and, as you might expect, headphones.
Konnichiwa Otani-san. When you started designing Xperia Ear, what were your priorities?
The most important aspect of this product is a comfortable fit.
For example, the part which you put in your ear was made as smooth as possible by constructing it using soft resin. Two types of earpiece are also provided – an open type and a sealed type – so that the user can choose according to their preference.
All ears are different; how did you ensure it would be comfortable for everyone?
We based the design on 3D data of a standard ear size, and afterwards carried out numerous wear tests within the company.
There are various shapes of ears and this product needs to fit them all. We achieved this by providing three kinds of arc supporters. I went through numerous rounds of trial and error with the mechanical engineer to refine these.
What was the biggest mistake you made during the design process? How did you fix it?
Initially we tried very hard to make it smaller, but it was too angular. Later, I thought that it was better to divide it into the part which fits the ear and the part that can be seen. That led to the current design.
The case for Xperia Ear is quite unusual – what was your inspiration for this element?
Holding the case in one hand and taking the Xperia Ear in the other – this flow was the key.
I wanted to make it as small as possible, ensuring the user was able to open it with one hand. Plus, with the sliding mechanism, we can prevent it from inadvertently opening in a pocket or bag.
What is your favourite thing about Xperia Ear?
How it provides information when you put it in your ear. I think that is very smart.
What are you working on next?
It is secret. But, please be assured that it is something exciting.
Xperia Ear is available from the eStore now.