Getting earbuds to fit snug and comfortably in people’s ears is a challenge that has its own market of solutions, from expensive to occasionally odd. Sure, most earbuds come with multiple tips these days, but there are also earbuds that you boil, and even ones that harden with electricity and heat. Now a Japanese startup called Vie Style has a much simpler take on the solution: soft, squishy earbuds.
Vie Fit are $149 truly wireless earbuds that hit Kickstarter today for $74 with an advertised 4.5-hour battery life, a case with over 30 hours of extra charge, and noise cancellation technology. But the real draw is that they use a soft silicon that squeezes into your ear. It’s not as stiff as Comply foam earbud tips — there’s some bounce to the material Vie Style uses here. It’s also supposed to stay cleaner and last longer, according to the company.
The benefits of this are supposed to be two-fold. One, they should automatically custom fit to your ears, providing better comfort and a tighter seal than stock earbud tips. And two, the squishy nature of the inside of the earbud means the speaker isn’t fixed in a certain direction, and so it’s more likely to wind up aiming square at your eardrum and not at some other part of your ear canal.
I briefly tried a prototype pair of the Vie Fit earbuds a few weeks ago that the company says was “close to final,” and they were light and comfortable. It’s hard to properly judge in just a few minutes, but they sounded just fine. My only concern is — surprise! — the Bluetooth connection. The Vie Fit buds use Bluetooth all the way through, including between the two earbuds, and that usually proves problematic. And during the demo I was able to cause connection hiccups by moving my head or bringing my hand close to the master earbud, which is a warning sign.
Again though, it was a prototype, so I’ll have to wait until early 2018 to try a final pair and see if Vie Style solved this problem. At the very least it’s a clever solution at a reasonable price. (The company says it tried “hundreds of materials and structures,” including one prototype idea where the earbuds were inflated in your ear, almost like Reebok Pumps.) But if it can produce a pair of these that works, the solution they settled on sounds appealing. Of course, if it fails, they wouldn’t be the first (or the last) to get truly wireless earbuds wrong.