“Microbe-Grown Headphones?” What?

Plastic is quickly becoming THE target when it comes to cleaning up the environment. Single-use drinking bottles, straws, plastic drink stirrers, non-degradable shopping bags are all becoming toxic items.

But so much of our world depends on items where plastic is an essential part of their construction and design.

Take headphones, for example. Outside of the wires and some of the driver assemblies, they’re all plastic. And when headphones die–and they all do–they end up in a landfill. What can be done about that?

Enter a Finnish company called Aivan. According to Digital Music News, it is working to create headphones grown from microbes in an effort to show how synthetic biology might be the way forward.

The microbes are a species of fungus which generates a yeast-based bioplastic that results from how the yeast creates lactic acid. The resulting polymer–a polylactic acid–is strong enough to turn into headphone bits. All you need is a 3D printer.

There are five other processes, too, covering the growth of things like the foam in the ear pads and a mesh over the drivers made of synthetic spider silk.

The prototype headphones, called Korvaas, are still in the development stage but will be displayed at various tech and design shows over the coming months.

I wonder how they sound?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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