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By now, the world is well familiar with those bright, glass-encased liquid speakers that perform a rather stunning light show whenever they are switched on. Additionally, there’s the science experiment lab-coats love involving a non-Newtonian fluid placed on a speaker cone. But then there’s this — the OM/ONE — touted as the world’s first levitating speaker.
Levitating, indeed. Like David Blaine or Aladdin’s magical carpet. It’s the stuff of legend and optical illusion, but the OM/ONE team has, through the wonders of physics and mountains of engineering knowhow, constructed a speaker ball that floats 1.2″ above its control base.
It’s a novel idea, and certainly pushes the boundaries of personal audio. For US$179 (stereo sound will cost a further US$150) consumers get a 3.6″ round, 75mm wide audio driver with a built-in microphone, so it could make for a highly entertaining centrepiece in a dreary, unending conference call. It’s also portable, with a battery that lasts up to 15 hours, and supports Bluetooth 4.0 LE, so most smartphones today can control the sound.
But that’s where the “cool factor” dissipates rapidly. Allegedly, it can tag along to the beach or a picnic, but storage will be an issue for careless folk, considering that there are two separate parts that function as a whole. When the ball is removed from its invisible platform, it also stops the audio, which means users can’t bump the unit abruptly, lest the music suddenly halts just before the beat drops.
But surely it’s just a novelty item? Backers seem to disagree. Its own personal funding programme has fetched over US$240 000 from 1046 (gullible) backers, with another 47 days left to fund.
It has the swagger, but it’s also remarkably impractical. It may possess the sound quality of a descending choir of angels, but no one quite knows yet. But for two gravity-defying speakers costing US$329, Beats’ ridiculous Pill somehow seems all the more worth it.