People are frequently asking us to create more mainstream devices such as an inkjet printer or a microwave, and for a good reason. Complex open devices such as the PinePhone are both exciting and fun, but they also aren’t for everyone. Or putting it inversely, they are for a very particular group of people. In contrast, simpler devices in our lineup such as the PineTime, PinePower, and Pinecil have all garnered a broader user base. Heck, I’d go as far as to say that the Pinecil is now a downright mainstream device with Amazon USA officially recommending it to those seeking a soldering iron. So then – we thought to ourselves – it’s time to go mainstream.
See? told you …
Seeking inspiration and scrolling through lists of popular home appliances, game consoles, battery-operated toys, etc, we frequently thought to ourselves: “we could probably do it equally well, if not better, and make it open”. We figured that since we’re already going after Apple with the PinePhone, we could also take a shot at the growing internet-enabled toy market. We therefore started development on a brand new lineup of unicorn toys with microphones, with the capacity to function as an always-online child-friendly voice assistant, and optional Home Assistant integration. With this new project already underway, two even more potentially lucrative market segments presented themselves: portable digital audio players and wireless earbuds.
So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to PineBuds and the PinePod. The buds offer features found on high-end in-ear headphones, such as ambient and environment noise cancellation (utilizing 3 microphones in each bud), touch-based input, and a long battery life. All in a small form factor too, of course. Unlike existing products, however, we’ve designed the PineBuds with development and open firmware in mind. You’ll be able to plug the buds cradle into your computer via USB and tailor the firmware to your own needs – changing the internal EQ settings and customizing the touch input being the obvious examples. The cradle has in-built UART, which is used for flashing firmware. I’m told that with the right tweaks, the PineBuds may actually work as over-the-counter hearing aids too. Seriously. The chipset inside the PineBuds is so versatile that it will also serve as the basis for the PinePod digital audio player. We haven’t yet gotten the design of the PinePod down, but I’ll browse Apple’s store for inspiration later today. Regardless, I just feel an open stand-alone music player belongs in 2022.
You’ll be pleased to know that the SDK has already been compiled and proven to work, and that a development board is incoming. Unfortunately, we had already started manufacturing the unicorn toys before deciding to switch focus. As a result, the first batch of the dev boards will arrive back from the factory next week following a slight delay, after intensive unicorn toy disassembly operations. More details about the PineBuds and the PinePod will be coming in this month’s update, and pre-orders for the development boards will be opening soon via our pre-order system. Seriously.
Oh, I almost forgot, those are the actual buds in the header picture at the top of the page, and they are already functional. The unicorn is real too.
Here’s the dev board – I’m serious