Anti-slip/grip solution for AirPods
January 4, 2017 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Mostly loving these ridiculous new AirPods, but as many have noted they are slippery as can be. I don't necessarily mean even in your ears, as much as just pulling them out of the case. I know that at some point there will be "skins" to cover them, but the tight tolerance of them fitting in the case, plus the holes for all of the sensors, will make these solutions difficult. What I'm looking for is a solution to add some "grippy points" strategically to the earpieces themselves.

Much like Sheldon in Big Bang Theory and his "lack of adhesive ducks" bathtub solution, I feel like there must be something (short of Plasti-Dip'ing the entire pods) to add some tiny grip strips or points to the earpieces. This could be a solution (as in a mostly transparent liquid applied in small dots), tiny fragments of a sticker/strip, you name it. I think ideally it would be a quarter inch or so horizontal strip, or grid of dots, applied to the inner and outer surfaces, to aid in grip for pulling them out of the case, and as a bonus adds a little tension for keeping them placed in the ear. (The latter isn't a real issue for me, but would aid others.)

The biggest challenge I think will be the smooth surface of the earpieces themselves, for getting something to apply and remain adhered. I wouldn't even mind (gasp) roughing the surface a little to get something to stick.

That said, I'm confident something must exist from another industry, and AskMeFi geniuses are the ones to know :)

posted by rtgoodwin to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I bet sugru would work well, especially if you rough the surface a little.

Making things grippy is one of the main uses, see eg use on tweezers here.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:27 AM on January 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

I also came to suggest sugru, which I've used successfully on a variety of surfaces, including an old phone that I wanted to make non-slippy for kitchen use. Worked great.
posted by mishafletch at 6:33 AM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think Sugru might be too bulky for this project. Sugru is fantastic stuff, but doesn't really lend itself to low profile dotting.

I had a similar need for barely-there grippiness on a project when I was a teenager and used liquid electrical tape I scavenged from my dad's workbench. I bet if you dotted some on strategically with a toothpick that would work pretty well. Actually, thinking about it, a series of skinny little hash marks might make a better gripping surface than dots.
posted by phunniemee at 6:44 AM on January 4, 2017

Sugru can be pinched to terrifying thinness between two layers of cling film/saran wrap. Peel off the wrap, pull off the thicker "donut" of displaced sugru and you have a near translucent sugru dot. Place the dot, peel off the other piece of film, run a finger wetted with dishwash and water solution over it to smooth it down, especially at the edges. If it turns out too smooth you can repeat, but after you've smoothed, press some fabric over it to textured it, corner of a dishcloth or something.
posted by Iteki at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2017 [5 favorites]

I can add that sugru being removable is a great bonus if you ever want to sell or gift these on. I wouldn't buy hashmarked ones not ones that had accumulated distracting grime around DIY, personalized, nubbies.
posted by Iteki at 7:30 AM on January 4, 2017

I would buy a box of the clear 3m band aids. Clean the earpods down with alcohol to remove oil, and don't touch them after you've cleaned them. Cut thin strips of the clear part of the 3m band aids and stick them down to the earpods. Should be easy to remove/replace/reposition if you have any trouble.

Also, I would be careful that the substance you use doesn't irritate your skin. Contact dermatitis on/in your ear sounds terrible.

If you use sugru, maybe let a piece of sugru cure, then put the sugru under a band aid and wear it for a day on your arm. Same thing with the 3m band aids, wear one on your arm for a day.
posted by gregr at 7:43 AM on January 4, 2017

I'm confused- which part of the bud do you need to be less slippery? A) The tapered part of the bulb that actually sits in your ear? B) The back of the bulb that sticks out a bit? or C)the stick?

If it's the tapering part, sugru would definitely not work because it would not fit in your ears.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2017

I have applied sugru to Apple brand earbuds before. Eventually it came off - but while it was there, it worked great. If you're looking for a permanent solution I'd recommend what someone said above: scuff the plastic before applying sugru to help it better adhere.
posted by komara at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2017

If it's the tapering part, sugru would definitely not work because it would not fit in your ears.

Meant to comment on this specifically: this is exactly where I applied the sugru to mine and it did its job of making everything fit perfectly. Different people got different-shaped ears.
posted by komara at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is exactly what grip tape is for. This is more than you need but basically one grip tape sticker would be enough for all the AirPods you are ever likely to have.
posted by jessamyn at 9:01 AM on January 4, 2017

Fantastic ideas all, thank you so much! I'm going to mark the ones I'll try, and hopefully come back and give you some test reports. (I had some sugru but it long since expired; the rest I'll have to obtain.)

But keep em going!
posted by rtgoodwin at 9:37 AM on January 4, 2017

@firstkmate (sorry I don't know how to reply to a specific answer...) it would be the inside/outside of the bud itself. Picture when you pull them out of the case, you're gripping them by the sides of the "pod" which has absolutely no texture beyond HIGH GLOSS. But if it added some extra slight tension in the ear happens, and we're talking +/- 2mm to prevent discomfort most likely, that's a bonus.
posted by rtgoodwin at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2017

@phunniemee That was my original thinking, some kind of "dotting", as long as it would cling to the surface. Liquid electrical tape sounds like an option, and I bet there may be alternatives. They don't have to hold up forever, could be re-applied a few times a year if really needed. Whether it irritates the skin as others mentioned would be a concern, but it's not like I have them in 24/7, and I do wash my ears :)
posted by rtgoodwin at 9:43 AM on January 4, 2017

I should have added this link, where Pogue talks about this a bit more, and more eloquently than I.

(You may have to click Read More to get to the second part of the review.)
posted by rtgoodwin at 9:46 AM on January 4, 2017

A little super glue and some fine sand? Or even just tiny dots of super glue or plasti-dip?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:06 AM on January 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love the fit of my AirPods and EarPods before them, but I must sweat a lot, or have greasy ears or something, because I do occasionally have problems with the slipperiness of the hard plastic. For the EarPods I used to use a product called EarSkinz, but those don't fit on the AirPods in the case. I ended up putting a small strip of gaffer tape on the top of each AirPod. I cut it sno it didn't block the proximity sensors, and it stops just before it would go into the bottom half of the case. You can see it in the pictures here:

It has worked perfectly for the past week. It adds just enough friction that they don't fall out without adding excessive sealing or making them too big.
posted by cebailey at 7:47 AM on January 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

@cebailey thanks! I used EarSkinz too but I don't see how they'll make something that will fit the case.
posted by rtgoodwin at 2:22 PM on January 15, 2017

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