Carl Pei’s Nothing shows off the tobacco pipe-inspired ‘Concept 1’

Over the past several months, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has turned his concept for “Nothing” into one of the buzziest hardware companies in recent memory. It’s an impressive feat for a company that has offered close to zero information about its upcoming offerings. The company has raised around $22 million, including a $15 million Series A last month, led by GV.

Nothing recently announced that it will be releasing its first product — wireless earbuds — over the summer. It’s a familiar and saturated category for a self-styled boundary-busting startup. Of course, plenty said that about smartphones, prior to the launch of the OnePlus One in 2014, and they seem to be doing pretty okay for themselves.

In a blog post today, Pei breaks down a bit more of Nothing’s philosophy, along with “Concept 1,” a precursor to the forthcoming unveiling of the company’s first product — call it next to Nothing, if you must. While the post uses a similarly hyperbolic language as Apple to outline its plans, ultimately Pei points at an approach that is, in some ways a kind of antithesis to Cupertino.

The product is built with a semi-transparent design, as part of an approach that features, “No screens, no dedicated devices, just barely-noticeable technology that empowers us to be more human.” If the screen-less bit is to be believed, in spite of the company’s acquisition of Essential IP, it doesn’t seem that Nothing is going to be launching a phone anytime soon.

Another interesting piece of the puzzle is inspiration from familiar objects. “Concept 1 takes inspiration from a grandmother’s tobacco pipe.” The company announced in late-February that it would be teaming with Teenage Engineering in a partnership that makes the design house’s CEO Jesper Kouthoofd the hardware company’s design lead.

Nothing certainly gets credit for getting the most out of the pre-release hype cycle. Between some solid funding and all of the fan goodwill Pei built up during his time at OnePlus, the company’s first release is shaping up to be one of the more eagerly anticipated hardware announcements of the year — which is no small feat for a pair of wireless earbuds.

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