Wireless Earphones And Getting Them Back After They Fall On Tram Tracks

Over the past years, the trend has become to ditch anything with wires. This has led to many people dropping wired earphones and headphones for wireless (Bluetooth) versions. Yet along with the freedom from having the wires snagged on something and having earphones painfully torn out of your ears comes the very real risk of having them drop out of your ears to land potentially very inconvenient.

In Japan this has led to a big issue for railway companies, where throngs of commuters will often accidentally drop possessions onto the tracks. Staff members will then use a mechanical claw (‘magic hand’) to fetch them without having to risk their life by jumping down. With small items such as wireless earphones, this is however not so easy. With 947 cases of dropped earphones in the period of July-September in just the Tokyo area, this has led to desperate staff members coming up with new methods of easily retrieving the small gadgets.

Solutions range from putting something sticky like tape at the end of a stick, to modifying vacuum cleaners. Most recently Tokyo railway company JR East has collaborated with Panasonic to develop a vacuum cleaner-like device that is especially designed to easily retrieve such small items from the tracks, according to the Japan Times article.

The embedded video (also found after the break) from a Japanese broadcaster describes the issue in detail, along with tips on how to properly wear earphones so that they’re far less likely to fall out when you’re waiting on the tram or walking down the street. While it’s possible to fetch your dropped wireless earphones from the tracks, having someone step on it right after it falls out of your ear on the street is less easy to recover from.


34 thoughts on “Wireless Earphones And Getting Them Back After They Fall On Tram Tracks

        1. And plastic.
          Carbon fiber…
          among a whole slew of other materials….

          Though, in ear speakers tends to contain a magnet, so should potentially be possible to pick up with a magnet.

          But who knows, they might be using some self inductance magic to get things going without an actual magnet…

          1. Mine have a magnet in them to keep them secured in their case. Knowing Apple though and their brilliance of ‘remove all the things’ they’re probably off shoring some ants and micro-megaphones.

    1. Ooh ooh, and move all the power and amplifying circuitry out to the other end of the string so they’re both cheaper and better.
      Maybe even standardize it without royalties and patent “tax” and whatnot to ensure mass market adoption.

    2. Great idea! You could even pass the signal up through a metallic string right into the earphones. No need to charge them. Maybe use a 3 pole connector to pass this new fandangled ‘stereo’ signal into the safety string?

      1. And the most amazing thing is that when plugged in, it works, and when the user unplugs, they stop working. Every time. No second guessing what the user wants and getting it wrong! What a novel concept!

  1. one thing i learned trying to move to wireless headphones is how much wireless headphones suck. or any headphones they have made in the last 10 years for that matter. i especially hate in ear devices because apparently i have tiny ear holes that even the smallest plugs available don’t fit well (it probably also explains why i enjoy black metal). i used to get these wired jvc ear buds that fit well but it seems they don’t make them any more (rather they changed the design and they no longer fit well).

  2. In the world of hearing aids for little kids, there are little covers that grab on to behind-the-ear aids and have a string attached to a clip that can be put on the kid’s shirt. Hearing aid falls off, it’ll be hanging. It’d be in the way if you put a jacket or purse on if you wear these strings as an adult but could be helpful in some cases.

  3. could anyone suggest a quality bluetooth in ear headphone set where the ears are tethered? .. I often have individual headphones drop out my ear when doing something active, so only buy tethered ones, but , frankly, they have all been crap.

    to a point where im genuinely considering buying some “normal” in ear bluetooth headphones and gluing on some paracord or string.

    1. A piece of silicon tube just long enough to go from ear to ear (under your chin) and just wide enough to fit snugly on the ‘tail’ of each ear piece should give you just enough ‘pull down’ to prevent them from popping out of your ears and too little slack to get caught behind anything

  4. This game a GREAT IDEA!!! We could join both earphones with a wire, and also use that wire to transmit the power and signal from your phone, that way we wouldn’t loose them and there is no need to charge them either!

    It has fewer parts, and no battery, which also makes them more easily recyclable, I don’t know how nobody thought of this before.

    1. I am also working on a concept of a keyboard, just like the one in the phone, but with real keys that move when you press them. It’d be so accurate that we would not need to deal with the autocorrect changing “gave me” to “game a”. I’ ll get to work on this concept once I finish with my version of ReMarkable: no batteries, and REALLY feels like paper.

  5. Is this really such a crisis that they need to develop a special device just to retrieve them? Do they pile up in such huge mounds that they impede the train from reaching the station? Do they roam in great herds attacking unsuspecting passengers at night? Expiring minds need to know!

        1. Some do, rules out run-through connections between lines so depends on lines. Most overground commuter lines like various JR lines or Keikyu lines use overheads, some underground-only lines like Sapporo Municipal or Tokyo Metro Marunouchi lines are third rail powered. Shinkansen(“New Trunk”) HSR are all overhead.

          I think it has more to do with the corporate SOPs than the danger itself, when a passenger says they lost something they probably has to do something.

  6. I’m really surprised they bother. I would have expected them to have a few signs around saying things dropped on tracks are not returned and just tell anyone who asks that retrieval is too dangerous, sucks to be you and be more careful next time.

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