Sony NBA-XC850
By reducing the size of the components it uses, Sony has managed to cram the battery and electronics for these noise-cancelling buds into the earpieces themselves

Here's something that caught our eye on a tour of Sony's Tokyo eco centre earlier today.

As part of its environmental policy, Sony is always striving to reduce the size and complexity of its products, and the amount of materials needed to make them.

One of the latest to get the shrinking treatment are these in-ear headphones. On the left of the picture you can see the 2011 MDR-NC300 in-ear noise-cancelling headphones.

They have a separate container for the battery and noise-cancelling electronics (that's the blue bit highlighted in the image).

On the right is the new design for the 2012 XBA-NC850 model. You'll see it doesn't need a separate part for all the noise-cancelling gubbins – by using clever miniaturisation, that can now all fit into the earphone housings themselves.

More after the break

Sony studied the design of hearing aids to get an understanding of how all the necessary electronics could be shrunk down to the required size.

So the XBA-NC850 uses a tiny battery, far smaller driver and microphone and a miniature processor.

It's just one example of a big company thinking small. Clever.

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