Christian Houle likes to work out, but the former CFL player-turned-accountant says he was always frustrated by the cords attached to his earbuds.
”The wires were totally annoying when doing physical activity,” Houle says.
He says he looked around for a wireless option but came up empty-handed.
“I didn’t find anything convenient that was good-looking and still comfortable,” he says. “On the market, there’s not yet a truly wireless solution.”
So he decided to make his own.
Houle is the founder and “chief nerd” of Phazon, a Montreal-based startup that’s currently developing a wireless earbud that he says will fit snugly in anyone’s ears. Phazon is launching the earbuds through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.
“What sets us apart is the fact that we are one-size fits all. Any kind of ears, from teenagers to seniors, will fit,” he says, “it’s a complete, snug fit.”
He says he’s tested a prototype with over 500 people and it’s fit all of them. While everyone’s ears are different, Houle says there’s an inner-ear pattern that everyone shares and that by giving the earbuds a little twist once they’re in the ear, wearers can ensure they won’t fall out.
The earbuds can even be worn while swimming – though their range is limited to 30 metres (they connect using Bluetooth) and they won’t work more than a metre underwater. Still, Houle says there’s more work to be done.
“There’s still a lot of testing, that’s why we did a crowdfunding campaign, we have a functional prototype but it’s not yet polished and we want to make sure that when we get out on the market it’s just a jewel,” Houle says.
He says the main focus now is on the making sure the sound quality and battery life is strong. One of the most interesting feature of the earbuds, though, might be one that only works when they’re not being worn – if a user has lost their earbuds, the Phazon app can tell them how far away they are an point the user in the right direction.
So far, Phazon’s crowdfunding campaign has raised over US$400,000 (almost $550,000 Canadian).
Houle says that didn’t come without a lot of hard work. He says he started building an audience long before he launched the campaign itself.
The Phazon earbuds are scheduled to start shipping in June. They’ll cost backers US$149.