Bose discontinuing unique Sleepbuds, offers full refund to owners

Bose is discontinuing its Sleepbuds and offering owners a full refund.
Image: Bose

Anyone who has trouble sleeping and has tried Bose’s innovative Sleepbuds likely found some relief thanks to the product. Unfortunately, as of late, Sleepbuds have experienced an array of issues that make them more of a hassle than a valuable part of a nighttime routine.

Now, after months of research and testing, Bose has chosen to discontinue its sleeping earbuds. On Thursday, the company sent an email out to Sleepbuds owners to inform them of the decision. In a classy move on the headphone maker’s part, anyone that currently owns a pair of the problem riddled Sleepbuds can request a return shipping label and send their product in for a full refund.

Broken Battery

Sleepbuds are truly a one-of-a-kind product. When they were announced via an ambitious Indiegogo campaign in 2017, the Bluetooth earbuds quickly raised 900 percent of the company’s original funding goal. I myself was an early adopter of the product and couldn’t have been more thrilled about the flexibility that the sleeping earbuds provided.

Each Sleepbud is about the size of a dime and features a winged silicon tip that keeps it secured in the ear. Compared to other true wireless earbuds on the market, Sleepbuds are by far the smallest of them all. Of course, their small size comes with a caveat. Sleepbuds don’t actually play music from a user’s playlist, but rather stream sounds and white noise from a curated library within the accompanying app.

Unfortunately, the tiny size that makes Sleepbuds comfortable to sleep with in any position is also the cause of their downfall. According to the email from Bose, “Based on what we knew, we believed that software and firmware updates could fix the issues. But the failures have continued, and recently, they’ve increased. That led us to look more closely at each piece of hardware. And we learned that while the battery we chose functions safely, it doesn’t work as consistently or predictably as it should to meet our standards.”

It’s important to note that the battery issue isn’t actually causing a recall. In fact, Sleepbuds are perfectly safe to continue using. Unfortunately, most users are finding that this simply isn’t possible.

So Long, Friend

For the past few months, users have been reporting more and more issues with their Sleepbuds. These issues are mostly battery-related, but there are also widespread connectivity problems. In such a tiny, groundbreaking product, this isn’t exactly surprising. Nonetheless, Bose’s ambition with Sleepbuds is admirable.

The company’s dedication to its customers is even more admirable.

Bose is offering Sleepbuds owners a chance to return their product for a full refund or swap dysfunctional ones out for a new pair while supplies last. The company’s email says, “As always, we will stand behind our products and honor our sleepbuds™ warranty. We’re also extending an offer to all our sleepbuds™ customers: You can return your product for a full refund until December 31, 2019.”

For those that have enjoyed their Sleepbuds experience when they worked as intended (myself included), there is some hope for the future. Bose plans to continue researching ways to fix the issues, as it is “committed to making [its] vision a reality.”

As such, it is highly plausible that there will be an improved Sleepbuds V 2.0 at some point in the future. For now, though, insomniacs are out of luck.

Nonetheless, Bose’s Sleepbuds experiment sums up what technological innovation is all about. “For more than 50 years, we’ve conducted extensive research to do things that no one ever thought possible. Each time, we did it to make your life better. When we’ve challenged convention, we haven’t always succeeded. Sometimes we’ve stumbled. Sometimes, despite our diligence, things have gone wrong. And by far, our worst days are when that’s impacted you. Nothing else comes close.”

Sometimes success is the end result of innovation. Other times, it’s back to the drawing board. This time for Bose, it’s the latter.