Designing useful tech for women can be hard — unless you are a woman and know your unique pain points. That’s what pushed Aniyia Williams to quit her job at mobile-messaging app Voxer to start Tinsel. Her company’s first product is a pair of earbuds for women, but they don’t look like any earbuds you’ve ever seen before.
Tinsel’s earbuds come in the form of a chunky, metallic necklace called The Dipper. The earbuds themselves are hidden inside a chevron pendant, while a 3.5mm headphone jack is hidden inside a sort-of clasp at the back of the neck. You can wear The Dipper all day long and pop the earbuds in and out of your ears as you need them, stowing them away the rest of the time. By wearing your earbuds around your neck, you never have to worry about misplacing them, digging through your bag to find them, or untangling knots to hop on a conference call.
“When I started this, I started from my own pain point, but it became obvious that, in consumer electronics, making tech goods for women is not as much of a thing as it should be,” Williams said.
Getting the look right was one of the first challenges for Williams. “It needs to look like a necklace before it looks like anything else,” Williams explained. So she partnered with a female industrial designer in the Bay Area who’d designed everything from headphones to clutches to portions of NASA spacecraft. They looked at Pinterest boards to get down the aesthetic; then, they figured out how to fit the tech into that look.
The pendant is made of aluminum alloy, so it’s comfortable and surprisingly lightweight, while the rest of the necklace (including the woven chain straps) is stainless steel. Your usual earbud volume controls, mic, and pause/play controls are also hidden on the straps.
The Tinsel team didn’t focus only on aesthetics, though; they worked to ensure that the earbuds themselves provide high-quality audio while also fitting most women’s ears (they’re EarPod-style, similar to the buds that come with Apple devices). At this point in the prototype cycle, we weren’t able to test out the audio.
If you’re constantly digging for your earbuds (or tired of seeing them tangled on your desk at work), the Dipper earbuds could be just the thing you need. While we probably wouldn’t wear them out for a night on the town, they would certainly be ideal during a commute, around the house, or at the office.
The Dipper comes in two color variants, gunmetal and gold. You can grab an early-bird unit starting at $150 on Indiegogo; otherwise, it will retail for $199 when it goes on sale this spring.