Panasonic advances vacuum gadget to protect wireless earbuds from train tracks

Panasonic is working with one of Japan’s greatest railway organizations to solve a new difficulty that has jumped up in recent years: an ascent in individuals dropping wireless earbuds onto train tracks.

JR East, the part of Japan’s previously private railway group that covers the Tokyo and Tohoku regions of the nation, says that there were 950 incidents of dropped earbuds across 78 Tokyo train stations in the July-September quarter, Jiji Press reports. The figure obviously represents a fourth of all dropped things.

As per JR East, station staff regularly utilize a grabber-style “magic hand” tool to get bigger things that fall onto tracks, similar to hats or cell phones. In any case, the gravel between the rails makes smaller objects — like, say, a left AirPod Pro — more hard to recover, which means staff sometimes need to stand by until after the last train.

To battle the issue, Panasonic has been tapped to team up with JR East on a vacuum cleaner-style gadget that is supposed to be vastly improved fit to getting stray earbuds.

The gadget is being tried at Ikebukuro station, a significant hub in northern Tokyo, and early outcomes recommend it works a lot quicker than the traditional grabber.