As tough as any workout, the world’s most durable sports earbuds?

Company develops new earbuds to withstand tough sporting environments

ERDF Midlands

The Company

Tzuka Ltd

What they do

Based at Loughborough University’s business incubator, Tzuka Ltd is a graduate consumer electronics start-up company. They are currently developing their first product; shock-proof, impact resistant and totally waterproof sports earbuds.

Tzuka have totally revolutionised the assembly method, resulting in their earbuds being in line to be the first with an impact resistance rating. Specifically designed and engineered to withstand any workout environment, the earbuds are sealed internally to be totally sweat and waterproof which can’t be worn away with use.

Tzuka’s earbuds also hold 4GB of built-in storage, allowing the user to upload 60 hours of music and podcasts directly to the earbuds. MP3 mode is activated with the tap of a finger for phone-free workouts without range restrictions and even underwater listening.

The Challenge

Tzuka was born when Tom Jelliffe and his gym buddy broke 9 pairs of earbuds in their final year at Loughborough University. In their attempts to buy earbuds for the gym, it was clear that the current sports earbud market was heavily focused on aerobic activities.

Tom with a range of earphones
Tom with wide range of competitors earphones

Further, large scale research was carried out and it was discovered that whether the consumer spends £10 or £200, the build quality remains poor, with the same cheap materials and assembly methods used. The only major change is within the internal electronics. Only recently have anaerobic sports been considered by the larger brands. However, the changes are limited to marketing efforts, with the features and durability of the product unchanged.

This was more than just a durability issue. Athletes raised frustrations about having to take their phone everywhere, as well as substandard sweat and waterproof protection which degraded with use. The challenge was to create sports earbuds with unparalleled durability and offline listening, all without compromising sound quality, comfort and style.

The company had already carried out much of their initial design work and had two successful prototyping rounds using competitor electronics. However, Tzuka now needed to develop an advanced prototype which required further development of the electronic hardware specification, to then be followed by the electronic hardware design.

The Solution

Tom approached The iNet and applied for grant funding from the ERDF PROSPER programme towards the electronic hardware specification and the subsequent electronic hardware design. They were awarded a grant for this work and completed the initial stage last year.

This was at a critical time in Tzuka’s journey as they were yet to receive any large-scale funding and without the grant provided by The iNet, it would have been incredibly difficult to afford the work package.

Tom outside a favourite venue
Tom outside a favourite venue

The Outcome

The electronic hardware specification was professionally developed and allowed Tzuka to work out the exact requirements, solutions and time scale of the electronic development for the product. This electronic development is currently underway and Tzuka are expected to complete their custom electronics by July, allowing for them to be integrated into the mechanical housing to create a finished product.

Product testing will then be carried out before launching this Autumn.

Georgette and The iNet team have made the entire process incredibly straightforward. Having this support right on our doorstep is a phenomenal opportunity which should not be passed. The grant we received was at a critical time and allowed us to complete a stage which opened up so many doors for us. Walking us through the application stage ensured there were no issues with the submission, and we are already looking at other benefits The iNet can offer.

Tom Jelliffe, Director
About the client

Tzuka Logo

Tzuka Ltd
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