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Improbable iPod peripherals, Part 1

There seems to be quite a market for iPod peripherals these days. Not content with crafting rubber sleeves and cassette adaptors, companies like Griffin and Belkin are building voice recorders, FM transmitters, media readers, and backup batteries to complement and extend Apple’s miniature beatbox. The product is the platform, as they say, and things can only get more complex from here.

In the proud tradition of armchair tech analysts proffering advice to those who have not solicited it, I present the Quietune. Anybody willing to or capable of bringing this little baby to life has my blessing; Belkin, Griffin, Apple, I don’t care. Go nuts. It’ll be no mean feat, I’ll guarantee you that; and a viability study might prove it a fruitless and expensive venture, but this is my weblog and I’ll invent whatever computer peripherals I please. After all, USB–powered mug warmers are all the rage these days, aren’t they?

Presenting… the Quietune

Moving on…

The Quietune might look like the bastard child of Griffin’s iTrip and iTalk add–ons, sure, and given the origin of my clearly–photoshopped image that’s understandable, but the functionality of this unlikely device is where the fun is at: it shuts everybody up.

All this time we were looking for a way to mute the world’s unruly hordes of megaphone–heads, and all we really needed was a good pair of ear–plugs. Put simply — the Quietune is active noise reduction for your iPod. Walking through a party, a crowded room, a concert hall, a construction site; nothing disturbs you and your music. Your personal space is preserved completely; and sure, it’s antisocial, but most fun things are. Even when you aren’t listening to your music, the Quietune is your own portable silence generator… it’s like a library in your pocket, except without the modestly hot librarian shushing everybody.

Put more technically — the microphone on the Quietune is constantly monitoring environmental noise, but instead of capturing it or amplifying it (as per a microphone’s normal modus operandi), this microphone feeds the noise through an internal processor, inverting the wave and mixing it with the signal headed for your headphones. When the inverted–wave ambience meets the regular ambient noise your ears pick up, the waves cancel each other out; the end result — silence. It’s physics, baby. Clean and clear.

There are a few caveats, of course, like the whole “when the iPod is in your pocket the Quietune’s fancy little microphone won’t be picking up any ambient noise, so it’ll be inverting the rather unique sounds of inside–your–ass” thing and the “the components required for a device like this are horribly expensive, the performance won’t be as great as you’re hoping” issue… but next time you walk through a crowd and have to turn your music up to drown out the noise, you’ll remember this device. With the Quietune, the crowd’s noise isn’t a problem… it just doesn’t exist.