Hardware hacker redesigns AirPods Pro for repairability

Ken Pillonel, the man known for his USB-C iPhone, has turned his attention to Apple’s AirPods Pro. His mission? To make the notoriously unrepairable earbuds more sustainable and user-friendly. Pillonel, a computer engineering student, has taken it upon himself to rebuild the AirPods Pro case, a feat that’s no small task.

The original design of the AirPods Pro is a marvel of miniaturization, but it comes with a significant drawback: it’s nearly impossible to repair. If a component fails or the battery dies, the entire unit is typically deemed useless. This lack of repairability has drawn criticism from environmentalists and right-to-repair advocates alike. Pillonel’s redesigned case, however, is a game-changer. He has successfully managed to make the AirPods Pro case repairable, a significant step towards sustainability in consumer electronics.

The redesigned case allows for the battery to be replaced, extending the life of the product and reducing electronic waste. The process wasn’t easy. Pillonel had to navigate the intricate design of the AirPods Pro, carefully disassembling the case and studying its components.

He then had to source a suitable replacement battery and engineer a way to integrate it into the existing design. The result is a modified AirPods Pro case that looks almost identical to the original, but with one crucial difference: it can be opened and the battery replaced. Pillonel has proven that it’s possible to make even the most compact and complex devices repairable. While it’s unlikely that Apple will adopt Pillonel’s design, his work serves as a proof of concept, demonstrating that even the most tightly packed consumer electronics can be made more repairable and sustainable. It’s a call to action for tech giants to consider the environmental impact of their products and to strive for designs that extend product lifecycles and reduce waste. Pillonel’s work is a testament to the power of individual innovation and the potential for technology to evolve in a more sustainable direction. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the most significant changes can start with a single person and a bold idea.

You can check out the parts and plans on his website.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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