Former UC Berkeley engineers redefine music-sharing through Wearhaus headphones

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Wearhaus/Courtesy

Nelson Zhang and Richie Zeng, two former UC Berkeley engineering students and co-founders of Wearhaus Inc., recently launched their new product: the Wearhaus Arc headphones. These are wireless headphones that sync with other music listeners, allowing you to discover new music and broadcast your own playlist.

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According to Zhang, the Arc headphones are all about socialization and personalization. Bluetooth technology allows the headphones to retransmit their audio signal to other Bluetooth headphones nearby. You can use the touch controls on the headphones or the mobile app to transmit your music or tune into the music of someone else who is also transmitting on the app.

“They’re great for quickly sharing a song while you’re studying together, watching a video in public or starting up a conversation with someone who shares the same music taste as you,” Zhang said.

The headphones have a sleek look with a color-customizable ring of LED light which, according to Zhang, is “the key feature of the design.” Users can use the app to change the color of the light to fit their own personal style. The personalization of the headphones is a statement to the importance of the headphones as a “wearable” product.

The motivation behind Wearhaus Inc. is simple: Zhang and Zeng wanted to create a product that would connect people through their music. The two first met through [email protected], the largest engineering organization on campus, where they formed a team and swept through hackathons, winning first place at PennApps in January 2013. When Zhang developed a prototype of the headphones in July 2013, the passionate duo founded Wearhaus and the Arc headphones together in September.Wearhaus1

“We wanted to include ‘wear’ in the name (of the company) because we see headphones as the classic wearable product — not just a tool for playing audio but a crucial component in the wearer’s style and identity,” said Zeng.

According to the duo, Berkeley’s culture played a huge role in inspiring them to create Wearhaus.

“Berkeley has a really vibrant music culture, with concerts playing at the Greek, music stores like Rasputin and Amoeba and some awesome student music groups,” said Zhang. “This culture definitely played a huge role in helping us explore and appreciate different kinds of music, and it had a big influence on how we view the social experience of listening to music with others.”

Zhang and Zeng are currently trying to build a community of people who are passionate about music and love sharing it. They launched a crowd-funding campaign on their website to reach $75,000 in 31 days to fund their initial production run and get the headphones to their early supporters by December 2014.

Wearhaus“These are the people that are going to be sharing their songs all the time and make the experience much more exciting for other Arc users,” said Zhang.

Wearhaus has already hit one-third of its campaign goal with more than 180 backers, and Zhang and Zeng are now trying to expand Wearhaus to a larger audience around the United States.

“We first started working on this product because the initial reaction from our friends was overwhelmingly positive, and the support we’ve gotten from everyone so far has been really motivating,” said Zhang.

You can purchase the headphones for $150 until the end of May. Preorders will then remain open — but at the full $200 retail value.

Go to their website for more information.

Contact Tala Katarina Ram at [email protected].