Fancy Enjoying Some Music with a Floating Speaker? Get an OM/ONE
Okay, we’re going trivial for this post. Yes, this will be about a floating speaker. How cool does that sound! Sony’s little spherical waterproof speaker is one of the most attractive devices for casual audiophiles but it looks like something can easily blow it out of the water. That something is a wonderful albeit superfluous piece of technology called the OM/ONE speaker from OM Audio. It’s a speaker that defies gravity, floating mid-air and spinning while blasting out tunes and tones.
The OM/ONE speaker has two separate components: the base and the orb. The base serves supports the floating orb. The orb is the component responsible for producing the sound. The base has a 12 volt power supply but it is not responsible for powering the sound-producing orb. The orb has its own power supply. The orb comes with a lithium-ion battery rated to last for 15 hours (at low volume setting). Battery charging time is estimated at around three hours.
Connectivity is through Bluetooth 4.0. There is a USB port on the orb for battery charging. It does not have data connection via USB. You can’t load songs to the speaker or mount an SD card to play music. Also, there is no 3.5 mm audio jack so streaming music to the speaker will be solely through Bluetooth connection. The speaker is designed to be compatible with almost all Bluetooth connection capable device in current use, from iPhones to iPads, mp3 players, Android phones and tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.
How Does the Orb Float?
The floating of the speaker orb is made possible by the magnets. The setup is similar to how maglev trains are operated. Magnets are strategically positioned in the device and electricity is applied to certain points to keep the orb floating without the magnetic force pushing or pulling the orb out of balance. The process obviously entails power consumption so expect the orb to use a little more power for that fancy floating stunt.
Using the Speaker
To use the speaker, you have to hover the orb (the part with a prominent magnet) over the center of the base until the indicator light turns on and the orb floats. Bluetooth automatically activates so you just have to let your device search for the speaker and start the pairing. Unfortunately, the speaker does not come with NFC so you can’t do a simple touch-to-pair type of connection.
The speaker, the orb in particular, has an on/off touch sensor. However, it does not have a volume rocker. Volume will have to be controlled by the device (smartphone, tablet, etc) connected to the speaker.
It is also possible to use the orb speaker without having it on its base. It can still be paired with a Bluetooth enabled device without the base, with the orb placed on a bag or mounted somewhere else.
To have a stereo setup (playing music with two OM/ONE orbs), you just have to stream the music to both speakers and the audio will be synched on both orbs. Based on the FAQs posted on the OM/ONE site, it appears that there will be no separation of left and right music stream. Hence, this is not really going to be a real stereo setup. Perhaps, the creators of the speaker can come up with the necessary software or their own music player to be able to play proper stereo music.
Does It Do Anything Else?
Obviously, the highlight of this device is its ability to float, spin, and play music. It can be a glittery disco ball if you get the disco ball model — a great option for a small, intimate party or celebration. There’s nothing much to expect from it although you can also use the sphere as a speaker-microphone to receive a call while your smartphone is connected to it. The sphere comes with a microphone so it can serve as an extension of your smartphone’s speaker and microphone. You can simply grab the floating ball off its base and answer a call through it without having to pick your phone up.
This interesting speaker concept will be produced through a crowdfunding campaign. As of now, the campaign has already attracted 1,036 backers contributing a total of $210,476. According to the people responsible for the speaker’s development, the EVT or engineering validation test build has already been completed. The group claims to be ready for mass production.
It is also worth pointing out that some part of the proceeds in commercializing the OM/ONE speaker will be donated to the Immunity Project, a nonprofit initiative established for the development of a free HIV vaccine.
The official OM/ONE website already mentions details on the prices and pre-orders. Pre-orders are available for $199. The standard price is $179. There are other packages of available. For $299, buyers can get a special OM/ONE with a disco ball orb along with a limited edition t-shirt. For those who want a stereo speaker setup (one orb can’t produce a stereo effect), two OM/ONE speakers can be had for $329. For those interested in the disco ball orbs as a stereo speaker setup, the package is available for a $529 price tag.
Obviously, the OM/ONE speaker is not something that can offer anything practical. The floating orb does not improve the sound quality. It’s basically a novelty, one with a real wow factor. It’s comparable to the gimmick of the holographic smartphone from one Chinese manufacturer. There’s nothing wrong with wanting it, even if the reason is just that mini floating “disco ball” effect.