First Click: pulling off a magnetic headphone adapter

March 24th, 2015


Mexican jumping beans and magnets are the most magical things I can recall from childhood. I’m talking real magic, the fantastical truths contained in biology and physics, not the slick trickery of a Vegas hack. I would study them for hours, mystified in their wonder.

I felt the same sense of awe when Steve Jobs unveiled the MagSafe connector in 2006. But this time it was accompanied by an inaudible “duh” — of course laptop power cables should be connected by magnets as a way of preventing accidents. But not just MacBooks, Microsoft’s Surface would ultimately adopt a magnetic connector. Pebble watches, too, and soon the Apple Watch. But not headphones, even now when much of the world dangles $600 smartphones from a white rubbery thread. Let’s face it: a pair of Bluetooth headphones solves the wire risk but it’s yet another device that requires batteries or charging.

A few have tried (and failed) to bring the magnetic headphone adapter to market. The obstacles are many: intellectual property rights, miniaturization, sound quality, and making sure that audio redirects to the device’s speakers when the magnets release (but the adapter is still in the jack). Now a small company from Akron Ohio says it has the solution, but needs a little help from Kickstarter to make it a reality.

I’m skeptical, but also chronically midwestern in my hope that Magzet can pull it off.

Five stories to start your day

  1. The Magzet adapter is like MagSafe for your headphones

    The two-part audio connector works with any standard 3.5mm jack to magnetically attach your headphones to your laptop, MP3 player, or smartphone. One half of the Magzet (the MagJack) fits over the jack on your headphones while the other (the MagKap) plugs directly into the audio port on your devices. These then snap together with magnets, meaning that any sudden movement disconnects the two halves, rather than sending your pricey gadgets crashing to the floor.

  2. You can now try streaming service Vessel free for a year

    Late last year, former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar showed off Vessel, a premium streaming service aimed at building new businesses for YouTube stars and other popular video creators. For $2.99 a month, Vessel gives subscribers early access to the videos that will eventually be posted to YouTube and elsewhere. Following an invitation-only public beta, Vessel is now available to everyone — and if you sign up in the next 72 hours, you can get it free for a year.

  3. Twitch Plays Pokémon finally captures all 151 original monsters

    More than a year after an ever-changing group of internet strangers first completed Pokémon Red by pressing random buttons, Twitch Plays Pokémon has finally caught every single one of the 151 collectible creatures in the Game Boy game. After 39 days of play, the final Pokémon — genetically modified cat-thing Mewtwo — was captured today.

  4. All aboard San Francisco's startup bus craze

    Late Friday afternoon, I was sitting in the back of a Leap bus with CEO Kyle Kirchhoff when the bus manager, a young blond guy named Richard, approached, holding his smartphone like a menu. Kirchhoff had just shown me how riders can use the Leap app to buy snacks. He ordered himself a bottle of Happy Moose Juice, a San Francisco-based brand that sells organic libations in saturated primary colors. Blue Bottle coffee and Boxed Water are also available for purchase.

  5. Utah reinstates death by firing squad

    Utah Governor Gary Herbert this week signed a law that reinstates the firing squad as a method for executions when lethal injection drugs are unavailable. The Republican governor's office said lethal injection would remain the primary method for executing inmates on death row, but the move comes at a time when the necessary drugs are in short supply across the US.

Magnet of the day