The main problem with truly wireless earbuds is that they can be misplaced/lost easily. With no wire to attach to the phone or neckband to keep it dangling, there is a high probability of losing one of them, especially while boarding/onboarding a train. People even go to extreme lengths to retrieve them as they cost way more than the wired earphones. To solve this problem, Panasonic has unveiled a vacuum cleaner-like device that will help in retrieving lost AirPods or similar gadgets lost on railway tracks in Japan.
Currently, the new device is being tested in train stations. The Japan Times reported that 950 pairs of earbuds were dropped on 78 stations during the period of three months between July 2020 and September 2020. Earlier, the job was tedious for train workers who had to collect these earbuds using a grabber tool. It was a tiring process as earbuds would often get stuck in the gravel and at times even hard to spot.
The railway staff has asked customers to alert the station staff if they lose their earbuds instead of trying to retrieve them on their own which can lead to casualties.
The situation led to a partnership between Panasonic and JR East. The new problem-solving device is doing the task at Ikebukuro station in North Tokyo. Initial results show that finding earbuds is much faster with the new vacuum device compared to the traditional method using eight-foot grabbers in between train timings.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York are even considering an announcement that will warm commuters to not take matters into their own hands when they lose their devices.
‘It’s a very simple message: If you drop your AirPods on the tracks, tell a member of staff. We will get your property back for you,’ said New York City Transit Authority’s former President Andy Byford in 2019.
‘We may not be able to get it back instantaneously. But the other message is, whatever you do, don’t even think about jumping down onto the tracks to go and retrieve your property. Don’t,’ he added. ‘Never, ever do that. You can’t rely on guessing when the next train might turn up. Make sure that you tell a member of staff, we’ll get it back for you and we’ll keep you safe.’
During this time, MTA recorded as many as 84 Airpods in addition to other wireless devices. The number grew over 1,000 as New York Times reported in the last quarter of 2019. The report also quoted a staff member saying that commuters value these earbuds more than their life as they try to retrieve it on their own.
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