Bowers & Wilkins C5 in-ear headphones

Challenge: Earphones with improved comfort, stability and sound

Product: C5 in-ear headphones for Bowers & Wilkins

Agency: Native

Territory: Worldwide

British loudspeaker company Bowers & Wilkins wanted to enter the burgeoning in-ear headphone market and Apple’s success with its iPod inspired B&W to develop a product for that category. Rather than competing on style and fashion, the company aimed for premium earphones with superior ergonomics and sound quality.

Native’s designers tried out 50 different in-ear headphone sets, taking them cycling and running. Not only did many fall out of their ears but they were uncomfortable. When the designers took them apart, they discovered that they generally comprised the same mass-produced components, encased in a variety of plastic mouldings.

For the C5, Native went back to the drawing board and designed every part of the product from scratch. To improve their functionality, the agency came up with two patented innovations: the Micro Porous Filter on the back improves the quality of the sound, stopping it bouncing around inside the headset; and the adjustable Secure Loop is a cushioned device that sits in the inner ridge of the ear, helping to hold the C5 in place.

What is more, to keep the headphones in position, the C5’s inner casing is weighted with a small piece of the very heavy metal tungsten.

In testing, the earphones stayed put comfortably during activities including mountain-biking, running and even break dancing.

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