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Transparent tech? Nothing reveals first concept design for upcoming devices

Carl Pei's new tech company is giving us a first glimpse of what it's been working on behind the scenes.

This first concept was inspired by a grandmother's tobacco pipe.

We've just had our first glimpse of what's coming from Nothing, the new tech company founded by Carl Pei, previously of OnePlus. The company, announced back in January, is building a product ecosystem behind closed doors, with its first device to be released this summer. We already know one of those products will be true wireless headphones, but until now we've had few clues of what more we can expect.

On Tuesday, Nothing unveiled the first concept photo to show off its design principles along with a blog post by founder Carl Pei. The photo shows a transparent earbud that Nothing is calling Concept 1. In the center of the bud, where you'd expect the sound to come out, is a red, white and black bullseye design. The word "Nothing" appears to be etched on the internal module.

Concept 1 is the work of Nothing's Head of Design, Tom Howard, who is also on the team at Sweden-based Teenage Engineering, one of Nothing's founding partners. Teenage Engineering is beast known for making retro, minimalist synthesizers that are popular among musicians including Bon Iver and Beck.

So, is Concept 1 a first look at what we can expect to see from Nothing this summer as part of its first product launch? The answer is no, according to the company. This concept product isn't supposed to be an early look at one specific device or device category, but instead it brings together some of the design principles Nothing is working towards. We should expect its true wireless headphones to follow some similar design principles, but the final product will look different. 

First and foremost among these principles is weightlessness, which means not including anything superfluous in the design, even down to branding. "We spend as much time thinking about what we can remove from a product, as what we can add to it," said Pei in his blog post. Then there's effortlessness, which means Nothing wants you to be able to pick up a new product and use it intuitively without any unnecessary complications. Finally, there's timelessness, which means taking inspiration from something that feels familiar but not outdated. In the case of Concept 1, this was a "grandmother's tobacco pipe," according to Pei.

"These are the principles that have guided our product design over the past several months," said Pei. "We look forward to showing you how this comes to life through our first products this summer. That's when the fun starts."