Normals Earbuds Combine 3D Printing With App Technology For A Perfect Fit

Ethan Miller/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Trying to find a good pair of earbuds is sort of like searching for that perfect pair of black pumps. Some are miniscule and slide around too much, while others chafe in an annoying way. Some look perfect — just the right mix of quirky and flashy — but feel distinctly uncomfortable, while others feel awesome but look like crap. The solution? Normals 3D printed headphones, of course. Normals combine 3D printing technology with an app that requires just a few pictures rather than an in-person fitting, so the earbuds are customized to fit your ears and your ears alone.

Normals are the brainchild of Nikki Kaufman, a member of the inventions lab Quirky. The way the process works is shockingly simple: you download the app on iOS or Android, hold a quarter up to your ear so that Normal employees can figure out the relative size of your ear openings. Then you send the pictures in, along with your payment info, and Normals will ship a pair of custom earbuds so fast that you'll be able to try them out within two days. If they don't fit you, you're promised a second pair for free.

The new product's tagline is "one size fits none," since no one has identical ear openings. In fact, said Kaufman, your right and left are usually different. To further customize the product, you can choose from a variety of colors for the "earform," the part that actually goes in your ear.

Does that sound too good to be true? It may be. Readers expressed skepticism, with some saying that simple pictures couldn't translate into quality earbuds. "There’s no way for them to account for the depth of crevices in the ear from the photo only. I think they can be pretty accurate in terms of 2D shape. But they cannot account for depth. Depth will be generic, while 2D shape will be custom," user yeky83 wrote on Verge.

Others were more worried about the audio technology that Normal will use. "Hope the sound quality is up to scratch," wrote warisz00r. Kaufman's earbuds are supposed to prevent audio leakage and make for a higher-end audio experience, according to CNet. For $199, I should hope so. The Normals website has a bunch of technological jargon pertaining to the construction of the audio. I can't really make heads or tails of it, but you're welcome to check it out yourself.

In any case, you better be careful how you're using your earbuds, just in case you're doing permanent damage to your hearing through overuse.

Images: The Verge