February 3, 2015 4:57 pm

“Ear-gonomic” design: our new Comfort Headset explained

Microsoft’s new Comfort Headset fits the shape of the human ear, offering you the best audio while maintaining maximum comfort. Let’s explore the design further with a Microsoft expert.

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The new Comfort Headset gives you a super-comfortable, high-quality listening experience with minimum sound loss. Coming in orange, black and white, the Microsoft Comfort Headset will be priced with a recommend retail price of 15 euros and is expected to hit the stores in March.

We recently spoke to Miikka Lehtinen, a product program manager at Microsoft, who explained the design and ergonomics behind this latest aural innovation.

Where did the idea of the Comfort Headset come from?

Miikka

It’s been a year since we discussed with our designers and engineers to do something different. The in-ear type of headphones were liked by many people, but didn’t offer maximum comfort to all. They were great for music and entertainment, providing an immersive listening experience, but were not optimized for business or conference call purposes where hearing your own voice properly is important.

We wondered if we could combine these features—immersive music and great experience in conference calls – in a headset that would fit most ears. Our comfort headsets were a result of this—they’re great looking and work brilliantly in all places and scenarios. By combining different types of earpieces (in-ear and ear bud), you get our semi-canal headset earpiece design and you will love it.

What went into the headset design and how true are they to the message, “a shape that fits”?

The ergonomics of the ear and [the research] from past headsets set the tone. It took a lot of time, resources and effort to build this headset, with a series of prototypes, designs and testing with real people.

We worked on the basic thought that people have different types of ears, but there can be a headset that fits most of them well. With our Comfort Headset, people don’t have to worry about their ear size as it fits most ears.

Is this headset really “a great fit for most people’s ears”? How?

To be honest, prolonged use of headsets causes some discomfort and so to understand this better, we handed our latest headsets for review and hands-on testing.

You will be surprised to know that 90 percent of people said these headsets were staying in comfortably and they didn’t experience any discomfort at all.

In addition, there is no need of rubber or silicone support. In the Comfort Headset, the earpiece is not going inside the ear canal, and they can be cleaned easily since [the ear buds] are made of hard plastic.  

People complain about the cable length of earphones. How did you choose 120 centimeters as the optimum length?

Headsets should be comfortable to use, so the [cable] length shouldn’t be too short or long. We have seen that people listen to music and put their mobiles in their back pockets. Some even like to use them with their PCs, so the length has to be optimal.

What many Lumia owners don’t know is that their smartphones have FM radio for which the cable length needs to be appropriate so they can use the radio properly.

With our current headsets, we have ensured that people get great music support and better reception of FM radio. We tested it by listening to football commentaries and music over FM and it works absolutely fine.

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The Comfort Headset’s environmental features mention that it is free of PVC. What substance is it made of?

The headset is made from materials that are free from chlorine and bromine, as defined in our product description. You can read more about this here.

Lastly, how do we ensure the cables don’t get entangled and resemble a spider’s web?

This is a problem of course and something we have been trying to tackle for many years. However, when you take the Comfort Headsets out of the box, you will notice that the cable doesn’t have edges. In fact, the cable is straight. Moreover, the material of the cable is smooth so that it doesn’t easily form curves or get entangled.

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Thanks a lot for talking to us Miikka.

Want a Comfort Headset before anyone else? We’ve got three to give away!

Tell us what comfort means to you in the comments below. You can post a photo, a video, an audio recording, a presentation to present your case.