Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Designing a headphone with customizable functions

  1. Feb 2, 2014 #1
    Hey guys, I have a question
    I am currently doing a project, which pretty much I've wanted to design a headphone with some customizable functions. I've posted a picture, just to help you guys picture more or less what I wanted to do (but it's not the actual design at all)

    What I wanted to do is to have multiple customizable functions:

    1 - To display the album cover of the music that I am listening to in a screen located on the headphone. If possible, with led lights that would change accordingly to the album cover colors (i.e. just like itunes interface changes color depending of the album you are listening)
    2 - Or to display the music frequency
    3 - Or simply display the name of the music that you are listening
    4 - Or, if you turn it off, it will only display the logo of the headphone on the sides

    * I also want to keep in mind that I wanted to show in a "round" shape display, so I'd need to program to turn off the sides of the screen (i.e. nest thermostat)

    So, my question is how can (should) I get started? Haha... is it too unrealistic? Too hard to program? Too much wires to fit into my headphone? (I can sacrifice the led aspect btw)

    In addition, can someone tell me what do I need to buy? What kind of led/lcd screen should I buy? What kind of wires etc? Because, I could buy it everything first and then look for help to a person to help program it.

    Apologize for my bad grammar, and probably for a lot of dumb questions. Sigh.

    Attached Files:

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2014 #2
    It's very ambitious but not impossible. All the hardware you need is avaiable for purchase. You can get a small lcd and a processor. Putting it together and making it small will be hard. Without a doubt you'll have to do some PCB designing to make something that fits into a headphone.

    PCB's are not impossible. I've taught myself to do it and have made some successful projects. Eagle CAD and DesignSpark are two free programs that you can use to make gerber files for PCB's. You can get good quality low cost (<$30 for ten) custom PCB's from Itead Studio in Hong Kong.

    The hardware side is going to be hard enough but the programming is going to be the bullwark of your project. How do you intend to get artist and album info from the songs? Is this a bluetooth device or does it plug into an audio jack? Is it going to interface somehow with popular libraries like Itunes or Zune?

    You may want to start with a simple development board. They make boards that can interface with LCD screeens, audio jacks, bluetooth, and so on. The dev board will be much too big for your headphone but it will serve as a platform to test your software. You can study the board to learn how to implement the hardware too.
  4. Feb 3, 2014 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Ambitious project.

    Doing this with the 3.5mm jack is difficult. It supplies no power (so you need batteries) and it has no data path (so you need a USB, Serial, or bluetooth data path)

    For a 1-connector solution you would need to build a USB sound card with bulk data capability. I'd start by understanding the IC's that make a USB sound card possible. Sound cards follow the USB Audio specification, so the basic features require no drivers. But you would need a custom driver and processor to handle the data and display.

    Chips like the http://media.digikey.com/pdf/Data Sheets/Atmel PDFs/AT43USB370.pdf can handle the data, but then you have to build a USB audio system (not simple) (there are other USB processor chips, like the cypress FX2, etc)

    Chips like the http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/pcm2912a.pdf can do the Audio, but not the data.

    There are chips that do both, but I don't think they are readily available (like the cmedia CM6571) and certainly not trivial to program.
  5. Feb 3, 2014 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Turns out you can receive the data you want over the USB HID interface. The trick is to find a processor with USB audio interface that can access the HID data and control a display. If you are interested in this method, I can look into it a bit.

    Doing what you want in a viable way is not trivial. That's why there are not a bunch of these devices on the market. Over the next couple years, as digital audio headphones become a reality, you will see these sorts of features.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook