Artificial intelligence is reinventing the earplug

We recently announced our limited-edition, ultra-rare Loop Aurum earplugs. Made of 18-karat gold, only seven pairs currently exist.  

They began as an experiment in AI generative design within the Loop design team. A recent case of artificial intelligence winning an art contest got the team thinking: why not apply AI technology to what Loop does best? After all, innovation and embracing the new are at the core of everything we do.  

We checked in with Fan, a Senior Product Designer at Loop and one of the leads on the top-secret Aurum project. Here’s what we learned: 

Teaching AI about earplugs

We started by asking Fan the burning question on all our minds: how’d the design team arrive at the otherworldly Loop Aurum? She tells us with a laugh, “don’t worry, it took lots of attempts before we arrived at the final version of Loop Aurum.” 

“On our first try, we gave the AI computer full rein to generate an original design. The only requirement was that it retain the classic Loop O-shape. And wow – the results left us speechless.” 

The computer produced 50 pieces that were unlike anything the design team had ever imagined creating themselves. Squiggles and uncanny shapes abounded. “Some of them were really breathtaking,” Fan says, "but most of them were also basically unwearable.” 

To focus their efforts, they taught the computer the standard guidelines applied to all Loop products: 

° They must be functional 

° They must be eye-catching 

° They must still be different from anything we’ve produced before 

Fan grins, “Then we rolled up our sleeves – again. It was clear this was going to be quite a process.”

Fine-tuning the AI’s approach

According to Fan, it was like working piece by piece on a giant puzzle. “We realized we needed to set some strict parameters for round two. Like the earplugs’ max size and width, for wearability.”

And there were many other elements to consider, too – like the material they’re made from, for example. “Our first pitch was titanium, but we ultimately settled on the rarer and more eye-catching 18-karat gold.”

Because look, feel and sound always go hand in hand at Loop. After a couple ofweeks of running the program every day, analyzing results and starting the process all over again, the team finally began seeing results. Loop Aurum was born.

AI earplugs, done. What’s next?

The release of the final set of Loop Aurum is currently underway – which means the design team is already pitching ideas for the new year.

“We’ve currently got big plans to collaborate with more experts and partners, and to experiment with new materials, styles and technologies,” Fan shares excitedly.“Because for us, the fun is in the unexpected discoveries we make along the way.”

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