Panasonic built a vacuum to rescue AirPods from train tracks

Losing a pricey pair of wireless earbuds on subway or train tracks has become an increasingly common problem, but Panasonic is working on a way to recover them. Working with Japan’s JR East rail group, the company has developed a cordless vacuum device that can quickly nab a stray pair of wireless earbuds, according to Yahoo Japan, as first spotted by The Verge.

As Japan’s JiJi press pointed out, rail authorities typically use a mechanical grabber to pick up lost objects like shoes or larger devices. However, wireless buds are so small that they can get wedged between track gravel and become nearly impossible to pick up, as shown in the figure on the right. The vacuum gets around that using finger-sized tubes that can suction the buds out of tight spots, then hold them in place without sucking them into the vacuum body.