By now it’s no secret that AfterShokz has proudly introduced a new product. The latest in the line of wireless bone conduction headphones, Air is suited to include all the features you embraced with Titanium, but with some key improvements you’re sure to love.
This week we caught up with AfterShokz Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Ken Chen, and Chief Marketing Officer Kim Fassetta, to provide insight on how Air rose from conception to completion.
Why a lighter headphone?
Ken Chen: We’ve been very happy with Titanium. Some people, even some of our own people, thought we couldn’t do better than Titanium. But when it was time to design a new product and we met with people to listen to their feedback about Titanium, we found the biggest complaint was with the overall comfort. The headphone was too big. The headphone was too small. The headphone was falling back. When you look through all these issues, you realize it’s the weight that’s the real issue. Reducing the weight became our primary objective. We didn’t quite know what to expect with the initial design, but we quickly discovered that people love it. Even people who already love Titanium love it.
What are some options you didn’t you go with?
Kim Fassetta: We love getting feedback about our products. We discuss every suggestion we receive with our team, but we can’t do everything, nor does it make sense to do everything. We chose not to give Air a reflective headband like Sportz Titanium because the headband on Air is just so thin. We chose not to include a back-a-track feature because too many commands take away from the headphone’s simplicity. While we did consider Bluetooth 5, we ultimately decided not to make the jump for this model.
How do you decide on the headphone colors?
Ken Chen: We always want black or gray because the majority of people prefer more neutral and understated options. But only offering black or gray would be boring.
Kim Fassetta: When choosing colors we look at fashion trends, specifically in the health and fitness markets, as well as what other brands are doing. Clothing, shoes and accessory brands that we admire are fun to watch and emulate. Of course, Apple is always a big inspiration for us as well. For the Trekz Air colors specifically, we wanted our options to be unisex, as well as both on-trend and unique. My personal favorite is Midnight and I have a bet with Ken that it’s going to be our best seller!
What was the greatest challenge in development?
Ken Chen: Product development comes with endless challenges. For every detail you fix, there’s another piece that gets thrown off. With Air, our main goal was reducing the headphone’s overall weight, and as it turns out, cutting the bulk was actually one of the most challenging things our engineering team encountered. It required a smaller (more efficient) battery and a whole new design to get the fit just right.
Who do you envision using these headphones?
Kim Fassetta: Ummmm ….. everyone! And I’m serious when I say that. I’ve always felt that our open ear listening experience isn’t necessarily for the masses, that our headphones serve a unique purpose for those who prioritize safety over sound. But Air has officially changed my tune. They are so thoughtfully designed to solve every common complaint about traditional headphones that I have a hard time imagining a scenario where they aren’t the top choice.
What’s Air’s best feature?
Ken Chen: The comfort. We interviewed hundreds of athletes who use Titanium and found that they had such positive things to say on so many aspects of the headphone. Overall they are happy with audio quality and battery life. Where we found they were less satisfied had to do with the overall comfort. Air provides a solution.
Kim Fassetta: Though it’s the core design element of all of our headphones (not just Air), I have to go with: open ear listening. But Air is the cream of the crop. They feature our most advanced bone conduction audio to date, and they sound just as good as the music that pumps out of competitively-priced sport headphones. When you add a quality music experience to the other values you get from open ear listening, Air simply can’t be beat.