How Do You Fix The iPad Speaker? With A Mickey Mouse Ear

We always knew that whole Apple/Pixar/Disney connection was good for something.

The iPad represents the pinnacle of mass electronics design. It’s a computer that fits in your hands and feels entirely natural to use–until you want to listen to it. While the iPad’s speaker has improved in three generations of the product, it’s still aimed away from the user. So the person looking at the iPad may hear it worse than the person looking at the person using the iPad. It’s silly.


Evan Clabots, from Nonlinear Studio, has developed a Kickstarter-backed solution called Amplifiear. It’s a clip-on accessory that reflects audio–especially the higher frequencies–back at the user. The amplifier requires no power to use; it’s just plastic, fitted with a “tension clip” (read: an etching within the plastic) that allows it to fit on iPad 2s or the new iPad (3rd generation).

The design is essentially a flattened gramophone, but it’s designed with an additional purpose. Clabots said that he wanted to give the iPad “some personality,” to enhance an otherwise strictly functional product. “The Amplifiear is reminiscent of a cartoon speech bubble, it gives your iPad character much like the little Pixar lamp,” Clabots tells Co.Design. “The cute asymmetrical shape will hopefully encourage the user to connect with it, and keep it around not only because it works, but also because it is endearing.”

I’m not sure that I see Luxio Jr. in the Amplifiear, but I do see Mickey Mouse as an amputee, maybe following frostbite from an Everest expedition that went awry. Minnie has been pretty cool about the whole thing, publicly at least. Mickey is beginning to suspect that she “doesn’t look at him in the same way,” and it hasn’t helped that his mother-in-law won’t stop talking about the chiseled results of Goofy’s latest workout regimen. Well, if Goofy had his $@#% together on the mountain, Mickey wouldn’t have needed to share his oxygen tank and sleep in a snow cave that night. But it doesn’t matter now, the loss is just some skin. It’s not like anyone makes a living off their ear lobes. Oh wait.

The Amplifiear is available for $20 preorder in red, green, blue, orange, white, and of course, black. I suppose there’s no reason you couldn’t order two and maybe save a marriage in the process.

Buy it here.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.