Pin64 has made a name for itself with a series of open hardware devices, including Linux-compatible laptops, smartphones, tablets, and single-board computers, as well as other devices with user-flashable firmware, including cheap smartwatch and even a soldering iron.
Now the company is targeting Bluetooth audio devices. The company plans to launch a set of PineBuds true wireless headphones with all the hardware you need for features like active noise cancellation. But unlike most headphones, which rely on proprietary firmware, the PineBuds will allow users to flash their own firmware. They may just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pine64’s audio roadmap.
The company first hinted that it was working on a set of wireless headphones in a April Fool’s article on the Pine64 blog. But given much of the other content in this post, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was all a joke.
Turns out the PineBuds are real though, and they’ll be a set of true wireless Bluetooth 5.0 headphones with touch inputs that can be used for controls, 3 microphones on each bud that can be used for voice calls and voice and noise canceling assistants, and a charging case that not only includes a battery to charge the earphones, but also exposes UART connections that will allow you to flash firmware to the earphones when connected to a PC with a USB cable.
Pine64 says this will allow developers to create custom firmware that can tweak touch controls, change sound signature profiles, adjust resonance for a specific user’s ear canals, or use the earbuds as hearing aids. .
It’s unclear when the PineBuds will go on sale or how much they will cost. But the first step is to get developers on board – Pine64 designs and produces open hardware, but the company generally works with the independent developer community to create software for these products.
The company is positioning the PineBuds and other new audio projects as a “small” project that will be almost entirely community-driven, meaning it’s more akin to the PineTime smartwatch and Pinecil soldering iron than to the company’s broader product categories such as smartphones, laptops, and single board computers.
Before the PineBuds are ready to ship, Pine64 will release a PineSound development board that uses the same Bestechnic BES2300 Bluetooth 5.0 audio chip as headset. The board is obviously larger than the headphones and exposes additional ports and pins that will help developers test the platform.
The PineSound board has a 3.5mm audio jack, 4.4mm and 2.5mm balanced jacks, coaxial and optical inputs and outputs, SMA connector, USB-C port and ports for connecting an LCD display and touch input.
Since Pine64 considers the PineSound card and PineBuds headphones to be a community project, decisions on whether and when they are ready to move from developer-only products to ready-to-produce and sell items will be made with input from members of the development community. And if and when that happens will most likely depend on how a developer community evolves and grows around the platform in the first place.
Not everything small community products from Pine64 have been big hits, after all. Of the society pine cube The open-source camera never really took off, though a dev kit is still available for $30.
It’s not hard to imagine that open-source customizable headphones might be a bigger hit, especially since they would most likely help flesh out Pine64’s growing ecosystem of open hardware products. Maybe one day you can pair them with a Linux smartphone like the PinePhone, a smartwatch like the PineWatch, or other devices like the PineNote E Ink tablet.
And if that happens, it’s also easy to imagine Pine64 expanding its line of wireless audio products to include over-ear headphones, wireless speakers, or other hardware.
Going through Pine64 April 2022 Update