LG Announces Self-Cleaning Earbuds

Self cleaning robot

LG has announced a new pair of self-cleaning earbuds, that promise to eliminate bacteria build-up.

As natural as it is, earwax can be a bit gross. You don’t want any of your tech to have any kind of foreign substance within or around it – whether it's dust, water, or earwax. That’s why LG has just released a new pair of self-cleaning earbuds.

Some people’s ears produce wax at higher rates than others – and while that’s perfectly natural, sometimes this wax can find its way into small seams and crevices within earbuds or hearing aids. This wax can then accommodate the growth of harmful bacteria that can lead the ear infections.

The wax itself is not going to damage your ears or your earbuds (other than maybe muffling sound, which can be remedied with a simple removal), but the bacteria it fosters can be dangerous if it isn’t addressed quickly enough.

Self-cleaning hearing technology

So what does it mean for a piece of hearing tech to be self-cleaning? And why is it important?

Well like we said, even the smallest amount of moisture entering a device as delicate and precise as a hearing aid can cause real damage, and the same goes for earbuds. Not only that, but the buildup of bacteria on a device that you put into your ears on a daily basis can cause severe ear infections.

LG Earbuds

Hearing aids are supposed to last for years and years, and cost a good amount of money, which is why some audiologists recommend hearing aid dryers, made by companies like Redux, which can prevent damage to hearing aids.

When asked about the importance of drying hearing aids, Redux claimed:

“Hearing aid users often assume their aids are completely dry until they notice a decline in sound, and then treat it reactively. However, our third-party trials showed Redux removing moisture from 76% of all aids treated. These results tell us that hearing aid care should be a proactive effort to keep your aid performing well, similar to regularly changing the oil in your car.”

In the case of earbuds, they’re a lot more short term, so don’t require the same kind of maintenance, but damage can still be done, both to the device and to your aural hygiene.

How does self-cleaning technology work?

So how do these self-cleaning hearing aids do their magic? Well, it’s nothing as magical as a coating of nanobots with mops and brooms, but it’s still pretty cool.

The title self-cleaning earbud is slightly misleading, as the earbuds themselves aren’t doing the cleaning – their case is.

These are wireless earbuds, meaning that they need a case to recharge when the day is over. LG thought this case could do a bit more than charging, and added in an ultraviolet light. This eliminates 99.9% of any E. Coli and S. Aureus that might be harbored on the earbuds.

You might have heard of those bacteria before – both can be pretty nasty and lead to some bad infections. In fact, studies show that earbuds can be home to more than 2,700 times the amount of bacteria that you can find on an average kitchen cutting board.

Looking forward

This is a new step in the world of hearing tech. Almost every new pair of earbuds that comes out nowadays is wireless – or at least has a wireless option. If every company were to adopt a feature like this, it could significantly lower the risk of picking up an infection from your headphones on a daily commute.

And, all things considered, the earbuds themselves have been reviewed as pretty high quality headphones, with great sound quality and battery life. What a bonus!

Written by:

Duncan is an Australian-born American-raised creative writer with a passion for healthy ears. He continues to build upon his audiology qualifications with research and various courses.

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