The Surprising Link Between Star Wars' Stormtroopers and Apple's Earbuds

Apple AirPods, or a tiny gadget from a stormtrooper uniform?
Apple AirPods, or a tiny gadget from a stormtrooper uniform? / LWYang, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

It’s not a coincidence that Apple’s sleek white earbuds look like they could click right into the helmet of a Star Wars stormtrooper. As The Verge reports, Apple’s former chief design officer Jonathan “Jony” Ive actually drew inspiration from the ubiquitous forces of the Dark Side.

In a 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ive mentioned having told J.J. Abrams (who co-wrote, produced, and directed 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) that he had “the look of the original stormtroopers in mind” while developing the earbuds.

The ties between George Lucas’ futuristic franchise and Steve Jobs’ tech empire don’t stop there. When costume designer Michael Kaplan started planning apparel for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he knew audiences would be expecting stormtroopers to look more modern than they had in the original films.

“[J.J. Abrams] wanted to hold on to the uniqueness and not get too far away from the stormtroopers, keep that iconic look, but still have 30 years of difference,” Kaplan told Vanity Fair. “I mean, it would be a little odd to have the same stormtroopers this much later when Leia and Han are so much older.”

Since Apple had proven itself so adept at updating its designs—while ensuring that products were still immediately recognizable as Apple’s—Kaplan asked himself “What would Apple do?” He, like Apple’s designers, also had to factor functionality into his work. The original vacuum-formed stormtrooper uniforms wouldn’t have been durable enough to withstand all the action in the latest trilogy, so Kaplan had to outfit the new crop of stormtroopers in “much heavier” ones.

Hopefully, Kaplan at least offset the unwieldiness with better visibility. When Mark Hamill had to don a stormtrooper uniform in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope, he famously exclaimed, “I can’t see a thing in this helmet!” which Lucas then added to the script.

[h/t The Verge]