Recycled guns give these headphones heft and a cause
Concerned about gun violence? So is the Swedish company Yevo, which is doing something about it.
Ian SherrFormer Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
A Swedish company, Yevo Labs, is building its latest headphones with material from an improbable source: guns.
The headphones themselves are pretty standard
earbuds, based on the company's previously released Yevo 1 design. It's around the edges that things get interesting. The accent metal is less polished than the mirror-finish chrome-like plating you'd find on its onyx-, ivory- or jet black-colored $249 headphones.
The carrying case, which also doubles as a battery-powered charger, is heavy. Like a power tool. And the metal it's made from feels rough, industrial. Yevo plans to sell this version for $499 when it's released in the next few months.
"In a way, this is the most valuable material in the world," said Andreas Vural, Yevo's founder and president. "It's a firearm that may have taken someone's life."
This is a statement piece. It's a visceral reminder that this was made from something substantial. And it's completely unlike anything I've ever seen while covering CES.
Vural, who flashed a smile when we first met, became more serious as I sat opening and closing the gun metal case. Its predecessor, which came out last year, has been a hit, Vural said, with demand consistently outstripping supply. He declined to offer hard sales data. That headphone charging case looks like a supersized lipstick tube or a carrier for a nice pair of reading glasses. The headphones are concealed in a compartment that slides out and then back in, with a satisfying click to indicate it's closed. It's pretty lightweight too.
The model made from guns is coarse by comparison. It almost seems unfinished. The bit that holds the headphones slides out feeling like it's
against the metal, which Yevo bought from a Swedish initiative called Humanium. In addition to its weight, the Humanium-metal headphones also cost five times more to make. Yevo is using it to make both the accent metals around the edge of the headphones, as well as for the outside case.
Everything about this gun metal device says it isn't a piece of tech meant to disappear into the background of my everyday life.
"We want to bring more awareness" to the issue of gun violence, Vural said. And a portion of sales will go back to Humanium as well.
Tech for good
Yevo may be the first company making a product with a recycled gun, but it's part of a trend in the tech industry. Companies are beginning to build technology with attention paid to more than just the design and price.
"We put an incredible amount of money into designing the best products in the world," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said when first announcing Liam in 2016. We "put that same amount of energy into thinking about what to do when they can no longer be used."
"There's a broad perception that sustainability costs more," said Oliver Campbell, who heads up Dell's packaging team. "We're proving that when it's done correctly it actually costs less."
He added that
, the company's founder and CEO, pushes his teams to be more sustainable, but to do it in a way that either keeps costs the same or better. That way, it's more likely the company can adopt those efforts across its business.
But there's more companies could do, said Kyle Wiens, head of the tech repair website iFixit. While it's good that companies are being more thoughtful about how they can reuse products or divert them from landfills, recycling and reuse needs to take a bigger role.
"It should be factored into the design upfront," he said.
Meanwhile, Vural said he's hoping his headphones will get people to think differently about the products they buy, and how much power they have as consumers to push for positive change.
"For us, it's an amazing feeling taking something that negative and creating something positive out of it," he said.