What’s better than a pair of headphones you never have to plug into your phone? How about a pair you never have to plug in at all? That’s the idea behind the Helios, a pair of Bluetooth headphones equipped with a solar panel that allow them to harness that big bright ball in the sky as an unlimited power supply for up to 15 hours of playback at a time, totally off the grid.
We have to admit, though Exod only recently began its Helios Kickstarter campaign, we’re fans of the project, having uncovered a similarly exciting prototype when we did our “15 totally weird headphones” article. The difference being, this one is actually available. We’re fans of any project when it comes to solar energy, really — remember those solar car races where everyone drives like 10 miles an hour for several days? Yeah, we even dig that.
Only recently has solar technology become viable for day-to-day consumer use, however. Thanks to their photovoltaic panel carved into the top of the band, the Helios claim a solid 2:1 ratio for solar charging: That is, 2 hours of sunshine equals one hour of playback time, for a total of 15 hours of music on a 30 hour charge. Not too shabby. And if you’re into the whole brevity thing (or if you live in the Pacific Northwest like we do, where sun is as rare as domestic beer), the headphones can also be charged traditionally with an A/C adapter or straight off your computer.
Other than their futuristic, yet decidedly tactful solar apparatus up top, the Helios are designed similarly to any other Bluetooth headphones we’ve seen on the market recently, right down to their convenient foldable design. Controls and connection ports for the headphones rest on the right earpiece, including volume and power, a solar switch, a mini USB port for charging, a microphone for fielding phone calls, and a 3.5mm jack for plugging in when the battery is low. The power key also doubles as a method for answering calls and play/pause, as per usual with wireless cans.
The Helios are also quite affordable, considering their impressive talents. At £100 for the Early Bird special, or around $158, they’re far below what you’ll pay for the latest Bluetooth cans from Beats, the Solo2 Wireless, which definitely do not support solar charging. From there, they go up to around $208 — still a bargain for solar power in our book. Of course, we have no idea what the Helios will sound like, but if they can bring more balance than the Solo2, they’ll be a worthy option. Unfortunately, that’s the gamble you take with a Kickstarter project.
If you’re willing to gamble on sound for some state-of-the-art functionality, you can grab yourself a pair of Helios from Exod’s Kickstarter page now. And if you’re into the project, we suggest checking it out sooner than later, as it still had quite a way to go to reach its $50,000 funding goal at time of publication. The Helios are slated for delivery to anywhere in the world this January.