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Circuit Breaker

These gargantuan ‘headphones’ massage your ears

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Today in Kickstarter oddness, meet Nirvana, an oversized headphone-looking wearable that is actually meant for ear acupressure. The cups contain several round pins, which move in and out to massage your ear and, the company claims, stimulate your vagus nerve for anxiety relief and better sleep.

The wearable appears to have few controls on it. There’s a button to mechanically move the top pad up and down to adjust fit, volume control (though there’s no mention of why this is there and what it controls the volume of), a power button, and a way to choose between its four different modes: stress, anxiety and fatigue, managing cortisol levels, and promoting better sleep. The idea is that through the pins massaging different points of your ear, your vagus nerve will be stimulated leading to any number of positive health benefits. (It’s worth noting that the vagus nerve can be naturally stimulated simply via deep breathing and yoga.)

Image: Kickstarter

Acupressure is supposed to be a relaxing experience, and everything about this headgear seems... the opposite of that. It’s bulky! It has to be heavy! They show someone wearing it in bed, but who is going to essentially put a helmet on to peacefully fall asleep! Also, it makes noise — so much noise! In a demo video tucked in the middle of the Kickstarter page, the Nirvana is turned on, and there’s not only a very noticeable whirring, but an audible click-clack sound as the round acupressure pins slide in and out of the cups. Maybe the sound will act as an ASMR experience? Or maybe you’ll just experience loud noises in your ears as the pins prod away at you. Doesn’t seem very zen to me.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about wearable tech, it’s that it doesn’t matter what the benefits are if it looks dumb on your body. Perhaps that’s one reason why Google Glass’ second iteration has been relegated to factories, while Intel’s new Vaunt smart glasses are more promising for day-to-day use. Even as a frequent traveler, I’ve never seen the redesigned Ostrich pillow in real life, which is ostensibly much less terrible looking than the original version.

This person in the background of Nirvana’s promo video sums up how I (and how I assume many others) feel about anyone who considers wearing these elephantine “headphones.”

Image: Kickstarter

Like any Kickstarter, there’s the caveat of buyer beware. But if you feel like a giant auricular acupressure device is exactly what’s been lacking in your life, the Nirvana early bird price is $179 with an estimated delivery date of August 2018.