Graphene has, despite the odds, lived up to its hype. The carbon compound has made everything from solar-powered artificial skin to safer condoms a reality. Now it has been tapped to reinvent the world of high-performance audio by Ora Sound, who have created the first ever graphene headphones, the Ora GQ. The Montreal-based company’s pitch has been a hit on Kickstarter, where they have raised $270,000 with contributions from over a thousand backers.
So the obvious question that comes to mind is, “Why graphene?” And the answer has everything to do with the material’s properties, which make it 200 hundred times sturdier than steel and lighter than paper by 1000 times. The latter makes it possible to create extremely thin graphene membranes, which Ora has patented under the name GrapheneQ. The GrapheneQ diaphragms that are used on the Ora GQ headphones lend it a high level of fidelity, resulting in improved sound quality compared to standard mylar membranes.
And it doesn’t end there. The benefits of using graphene include an extended frequency response, lower distortion, and more efficient heat dissipation as a result of the ability to direct heat away from the headphone’s voice coil. They also claim a 70 percent increase in battery efficiency, which would mean having to plug them in much less often. The company has put the device through third party tests, and the results are available on their Kickstarter page with a bunch of graphs and measurements.
Outside of all the graphene awesomeness, the Ora GQ holds up as a nicely designed pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones. It has gesture recognition built into the side, so you can play a song with a single tap or pick up a call with a double tap.The ear pads and headband are lined with lambskin leather. The lithium polymer battery inside can be charged using a USB cable.
Ora Sound was co-founded by Robert Eric-Gaskell, who led a team studying how to use graphene oxide’s properties in high-quality sound applications at McGill University in Montreal. Following the creation of GrapheneQ, he joined the incubator program at TandemLaunch, where he raised $750,000 in funding to create a team around the technology.
Funding for the first production run comes from Kickstarter. The Ora GQ blew past its $101,000 goal and has about a month remaining to add to its collection. Super early bird units of the headphones are priced $248, which is half the expected retail price of $499. Each package will include access to a digital download of an album by Gustavo Dudamel, who is the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director. You will have to wait a while to get your own access to Ora’s high-performance headphones, since shipping is expected to commence only by March 2018.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.