Atlantic Cities

The Nuclear Option for Rude Subway Riders: Wearable Speakers

The Nuclear Option for Rude Subway Riders: Wearable Speakers

Is there any better way to agitate an entire subway car of commuters than blasting tinny music from your phone? Such sonic offenders seem to believe that because they like the jams they're playing, you should too, and if you don't you can just move to another car. Only finger-nail clipping comes close in terms of blatant disrespect.

Just imagine the chaos, then, that this specially modded backpack could spread in an otherwise calm train car. The awful accessory, designed by the Dutch firm Lijmbach, Leeuw & Vormgeving, is a foldable satchel with speakers built into it – tiny tweeters on the front and what look like tooth-jarring woofers on the sides. Actually, there appear to be even more speakers than that; the pack is absolutely riddled with them, making it the perfect weapon for assaulting riders with sonic shards of Rihanna and Biebs.

It's even designed to look like a tool of war, with a dark, intimidating shape reminiscent of a hand grenade. (The inspiration was an armadillo, for what it's worth.) A tough shell of industrial-strength polypropene resists punches, kicks and shoes and books thrown at its owner. Passengers should be able to hear somebody wearing it from a quarter-mile away, however, enough time to form a human barricade in front of the train door. Also on the plus side: There's only one of these puppies in existence.

The pack was an experiment from the designers for the 2011 Dutch Design Week; it became so popular that it inspired a product line of lightweight "Solid Gray" bags that retail for about $180. The designers must have weighed the consequences of being edgy versus starting an all-out war on the train system, because the newer models omit the speaker system.

But the world's not safe, yet. Know that the Sharper Image is marketing a version of "Solid Gray" that includes speakers with "room-filling sound." Giving Shape's "Boompack" is a wearable boombox with the added annoyance of playing videos via a 200-lumen projector. There are also these speakers from Lucky Bums that attach to the straps of your backpack, and over at Instructables somebody has shared plans for converting a messenger bag into a broadcast booth for your iTunes playlist.

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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