If we asked you to picture iconic headphones, your mind probably jumps to Beats, the pair that managed to make large, over-ear devices cool in the 21st century. But beginning today, there's a new pair of earphones that might take their place: Buttons. The circular, metallic Buttons ($230 from the Apple Store) look more like clip-on earrings than a pair of earbuds. Created by i.am+, the tech company founded by will.i.am, these wireless earphones are part of what the artist of Black Eyed Peas fame ("I be rockin' them beats") sees as the necessary, intertwined future of fashion and tech. "It took me a while to find garments that make me feel like me, and we all have this same feeling when we then have to go out and buy devices that don't look like anything that we're wearing," will.i.am told Refinery29. "Why does the accessory only favor the phone and not my outfit? There has to be some middle ground between the two worlds."
i.am+ is one of the few (but growing number of) tech companies that are based in Hollywood. But it's a fitting city for the company to be based in, given that will.i.am wants to create products that fuse worlds that have previously struggled to merge. Sure, you have your Tory Burch Fitbits and Opening Ceremony-designed Intel wearables, but none has managed to become a must-have device — the pairing of tech and fashion in these cases feels forced, not natural. "We all live on our tech and in our fashion, but those two worlds have not come together yet," will.i.am said. Whether Buttons can become the product that successfully merges the two is yet to be seen (it is, after all, a lofty ask). The metallic discs (the ear pieces) are styled after the shape of vinyl records. They're meant to be worn all day, if not in your ears, then around your neck, where the magnetized discs join forces to turn the earbuds into a necklace-like loop. However, their tech capabilities don't extend beyond what most other wireless headphones let you do — listen to music and make calls via the built-in remote and microphone — yet the price tag is decidedly higher. Perhaps that price tag is due to performance: The audio is crisp and clear, and Buttons feel lighter than other wireless earphones since the battery is located in the earpiece, rather than in the volume controls. Plus, Buttons do look far more cutting-edge than what's preceded them (they're prettier than AirPods, that's for sure). I can actually see myself wearing and using these wireless earbuds. So, yes, I'll be rockin' them Buttons.