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Japan Fixes Persistent Problem Commuters Have Had With AirPods
By Mikelle Leow, 09 Nov 2020
Image via Shutterstock
Back when Apple introduced AirPods, thus spawning the era of wireless earphones, everyone made the same joke that theirs were already missing. Fast forward four years later, and the immense risk of losing your AirPods continues to be an adjacent design problem of small wireless audio devices.
It’s such a recurrent frustration, that East Japan Railway Co. reports, via Forbes, that between the three months of July and September, JR East train passengers had already misplaced 950 pairs of AirPods across the tracks of 78 stations in Tokyo. In fact, AirPods apparently made up a quarter of all dropped belongings.
Third parties have hurried to solve an issue Apple and other tech companies haven’t found a solution for. There are, for example, safety wires to hold wireless earphones in the same way eyewear chains hold glasses. As for the Japanese railway company, it has just partnered with Panasonic to develop a unique vacuum cleaner with a “magic hand” exclusively devised to pick up AirPods and the like that end up on train tracks.
According to The Japan Times, the preliminary tests with the vacuum at the Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo proved it was much more efficient than the current way of retrieving the tiny devices with a mechanical claw-like tool.
Employees have grappled with the present method, as it also comes with the challenge of removing bits of gravel. The old grabbing tool actually works better for larger belongings like smartphones and bags.
Evidently, transportation services elsewhere in the world will want to get their hands on this technology, since losing your AirPods is a global first-world pain.
The Wall Street Journal shared in 2019 that finding dropped AirPods is one of the more common requests made by passengers.
[via Forbes, cover image via Shutterstock]
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