Engineer's USB-C AirPods Hint at a World Without Lightning
Ken Pillonel's Bespoke AirPods are the Successor to the World's First USB-C iPhone
With the world's first iPhone with a USB-C port and the first Android phone with a Lightning connector, Ken Pillonel has built some remarkable devices. With the world's first USB-C AirPods, Pillonel is applying his knowledge to a slightly different category of product.
Pillonel explains his latest product in a new video as a method to alleviate the frustration of having to use different types of connections to charge Apple devices. He was also able to successfully swap out Apple's proprietary Lighting Connector for a USB-C port, allowing him to charge the case and earbuds using the same cable he'd use to power an iPad Pro or MacBook.
Pillonel told Engadget that his motivation for his latest gadget hack was rather easy when asked about it. "What Apple products do I use every day, and which ones still have a Lightning port?" he said. However, replacing the jack on an Apple iPhone isn't straightforward, according to Pillonel, who claims that making a working AirPods case with USB-C was more complicated than adding a Lightning port to an Android phone. "It was more difficult since I had high expectations for how the completed result should look," he explained.
Another obstacle was finding out how others could replicate his achievement on their own devices, especially as Pillonel intends to open source the entire project in the near future. "I designed to be a brand-new AirPods replacement part." He explained, "You just unhook the old Lightning connector and plug in the new USB-C circuit."
But, in the end, Pillonel stated, "It is so pleasant to be able to utilize only one wire and one charger for all my Apple gadgets." It's just as it should be." In some ways, it's the dream: having a single cable that can charge or deliver data to any device, regardless of its type or manufacturer.
This is a problem that the tech industry and governments all around the world have been debating for quite some time. However, it appears that, thanks to a proposal from the EU last year, Europe is getting closer to making the dream a reality.
Pillonel is also attempting to demonstrate the benefits of having a truly global connector in the real world, stating, "I believe the iPhone will be the turning point in the switch to USB-C." We should expect all other accessories to progressively lose the Lightning connector if the next iPhone makes the changeover."
One issue Pillonel still has is what's next on the agenda after successfully adding working USB-C connections to the few remaining Apple devices that use the Lightning connector. He stated that it is not worth his effort to tackle one of Apple's tablets because all iPads (apart from the regular 10.2-inch model) have already made the conversion to USB-C.
"I might make a few more USB-C projects," he remarked, "but I have a lengthy list of other improvements I want to try!"
In the meantime, keep tuned to Pillonel's YouTube channel for a lengthier, more in-depth video on how to add USB-C to your own AirPods, which will be released soon.