Beans and nuts with music players housed inside could be a "natural rival" to the Apple iPod, their inventor claims.
The iBean and iTagua, the world's first digital audio music players designed using Amazonian bean and nut casings from the Amazon Rainforest in Colombia, were launched on Internet funding platform Kickstarter yesterday in a bid to raise money for their first production run.
The project will only be funded if at least £30,000 is pledged by 5 September, but creator Jim Campbell believes he has two "awesome products" ready to go to market.
The music players, which have been trademarked by London-based Cybotanics, are made using the tagua nut and the Entada gigas bean from Colombia.
In a video on the Kickstarter website, Campbell said: "We believe we're the first company ever to make a range of consumer electronic products using whole natural botanical casings, creating an incredible fusion of technology and nature."
Campbell, who is managing director of Cybotanics, said the 2GB or 4GB devices will deliver "lossless" CD quality music at a much higher bit-rate than conventional music players thanks to a new form of music compression from Monkey’s Audio.
Unlike traditional methods such as MP3, OGG, or LGT that permanently discard quality to save space, Monkey’s Audio represents bit-for-bit copies of music, though the devices also play normal MP3 files.
Speaking about how he came up with the idea, he recalled a trip to northern Colombia in which he admired the mahogany-coloured beans, and after researching other beans and nuts he found the tagua nut.
"I soon realised they could be machined and used as an ideal and beautiful housing for a music player. I thought why not make a natural rival to the iPod and call it the iBean?" he said.
The music players are the first in a series of products within the company's portfolio that will be launched over the next year, and are manufactured in Seoul, Korea, with final assembly in Bogota, Colombia.
The venture is designed to provide income for Colombia’s indigenous population and also raise funds for Colombian charity Natura Foundation – a non-governmental organisation created in 1984 with a mission to help conserve the biodiversity of Colombia and the search for alternative sustainable use of natural resources.
So far the project has 16 backers and £936 on Kickstarter. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, so if the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.