There are many uses for headphones in our daily lives. From choreographing a gym workout to making the commute to work more bearable, headphones allow us to immerse ourselves in our own music without disturbing anyone else. Well, the Finnish design studio, Aivan, has a new pair of headphones up its sleeve, and its components may surprise you. From all of the things that you’ve seen headphones made out of, fungus is probably not one of them.
Aivan used different materials grown by microbes, as well as basic fungi and yeast to create the Korvaa headphones. In fact, these headphones are made up of six different microbial grown substances, so they’re definitely diverse in terms of ingredients. Why would Aivan want to use fungus to fashion its headphones? The team at Aivan wanted to show the potential of synthetic biology in fabricating materials and creating energy, among other things. They chose headphones as a demonstration of this potential because of the many different components and textures found. Headphones have everything from rigid plastic to soft leather workings.
So, Aivan got to work on making this goal a reality by growing the necessary fungi and yeasts to supply it. The hard plastic from the headphones was grown from the lactic acid in baker’s yeast, while the padding placed over the ears was made possible by using a fungus called Trichoderma reesei. Covering that padding is the fungus phanerochaete chrysosporium, and spider silk was used to make the cover for the speakers of the headphones. The rest of the headphones are made up by cellulose. As you can see, no parts of the headphones were left to traditional building materials. While the current Korvaa headphones aren’t available for consumer use, they still open up the door for other designers to use synthetic biology to fashion materials in the future.