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Wearhaus Arc

Socially minded wireless headphones that allow users to share music and listen in on other's playlists

by Graham Hiemstra in Tech on 06 May 2014

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Though some still hold on to the days of gathering around a record player and listening to tunes, the act of consuming music is becoming less social by the day. In the face of this stands high quality Bluetooth systems and socially minded providers however, from Sonos to Spotify and now; the Wearhaus Arc. Developed to make music sharing part of everyday life, the Arc headphone uses color cues and an iOS and Android app to allow listeners nearby to see who's listening to what, share playlists and listen in on each other's sessions.

To launch the Arc headphone system, founders Nelson Zhang and Richie Zeng are taking an unconventional path to a familiar destination, running a crowdsourcing campaign directly through their own native site (rather than using Kickstarter or Indiegogo). Then again, this sort of pioneering mentality seems to come naturally to the young entrepreneurs. Both Zhang and Zeng dropped out of the University of California, Berkeley to pursue the startup. Meanwhile, Zhang was awarded $100,000 to follow his entrepreneurial dreams as a Thiel Fellow.

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To encourage connecting with others, the headphones boasts a range of 30 meters between two users. Individual Arc headphones will display a user-chosen color to display their current mood or personality. And if two users decide to connect and listen to the same song or playlist, their colors sync. "Functionally, it's just a great audiovisual experience," says Zhang. The sleek hardware design and changing colors create a unique atmosphere of sorts, one that Zhang feels parallels the heartbeat of his native Shanghai, where the product was designed. "It's a very neon, very cyberpunk city," explains the now SF-based Zhang. "And I kind of miss how it glows at night."

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Perhaps not-so-coincidently, the Arc could be best fit for cities like Shanghai or SF, where early tech adopters reside, as a rather substantial endorsement by the public will be necessary for Wearhaus to show its full potential. Whether this is possible or not, the customizable headphones and app are plenty functional enough on their own, allowing for wireless syncing to essentially all music providers from Rdio to Soundcloud and even YouTube.

Visit Wearhaus directly online, where the Arc pre-sells for $150. To support the community Zhang and Zeng hope to captivate, the two are offering the first 100 Cool Hunting readers to act an exclusive $30 discount on initial preorders. Simply enter "COOLHUNTING" in the promo code box to take advantage of the offer.

Images courtesy of Wearhaus

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