Apple has just publicly copped to the fact that you can get a “small and quick electrical (static) shock from your earbuds while listening to iPod or iPhone.” The problem is not specific to the Apple earbud type of headphones (those headsets that fit into the opening of your ear canal), but rather is specific to iPod and iPhone, and other sorts of MP3 players, and can happen with any brand of earbud.
Apple describes the earbud static shock problem thusly: “When using headphones in areas where the air is very dry, it is easy to build up static electricity and possible for your ear to receive a small electrostatic discharge from the headphones. Receiving a static shock from a pair of earbuds does not necessarily indicate an issue with the iPod, iPhone, or earbuds.
This condition is very similar to dragging your feet across a carpet and receiving a static shock by touching a door knob. However, instead of the static charge building up on your body, the charge builds up on the device that the earbuds are connected to. Likewise, instead of the static buildup discharging through your finger when you touch a door knob, it discharges through the earbuds.”
Apple explains that several factors can exacerbate the situation, such as taking your iPhone or iPod in and out of your pocket (which can create a static charge), exercising or jogging (or, presumably, walking) with your iPod or iPhone, or wearing clothing made of synthetic fibers.
Fortunately, who on earth would carry their iPod or iPhone around with them while walking or exercising, or take it out of their pocket?
Oh yeah, only everybody who has one.
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Apple goes on to suggest several ways to reduce or alleviate the problem, which include “avoid using headphones in extremely dry environments” and “touch a grounded unpainted metal object before inserting the headphones.”
They also suggest:
“Try raising the moisture level in the air of the local environment by using a portable humidifier or adjusting the humidity control on your air conditioner.
There are a number of anti-static sprays that can be sprayed into the air that can be used to reduce static.
If you have dry skin, try anti-static hand lotion.
Try wearing different clothes. Try clothes with natural fibers since synthetic fibers are more likely to hold a static charge.
Try to keep your device out of the wind by using a case, or leaving it in your bag or pocket.
Avoid removing your device from your pockets frequently as rubbing the device on certain materials can cause a static build up.”
Or maybe people could just stop walking around with their head up their iPod (and, for Pete’s sake, stop driving or cycling with your ears stoppered up), and start paying attention to the world around them again.
Naaah, that’s too radical a thought.
On the other hand, we see a market opportunity here for the savvy entrepreneur.
Anti-static iPod cases, anyone?
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