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iPhone Accessories

Turn Your Baby's Cry Into an iPhone Case

Turn Your Baby's Cry Into an iPhone Case

Courtsey Shapeways

Welcome to the era of mass customization in which anyone can build a unique iPhone case for $25.

A pair of companies—Shapeways and SoundCloud—have teamed up to make it possible for someone to take a favorite song or voice recording and turn the sound into an iPhone case. Confused? Well, here’s how it works.

Shapeways specializes in what’s known as 3D printing. The company, based in New York, operates factories in which machines can literally print objects—be they cups, jewelry, or napkin rings—out of plastic, metal, and ceramics. People can use software on the Shapeways website to customize objects and Shapeways will then print goods and mail them to the consumer. (Want to turn your name into a light fixture? No problem.)

To create custom iPhone cases, Shapeways has teamed with SoundCloud, a software maker that specializes in letting people create and share sound recordings. In this case, you can use a SoundCloud app to record some audio and then create a waveform—basically a picture—of that audio clip. Then you hop onto the Vibe marketplace on Shapeways’s website and select your audio recording. The company will print out an iPhone case that captures the unique hills and valleys of the waveform and mail it to you for $25. (Or $19.95 until March 18.)

“You can do a song or make it a bit more personal,” says Peter Weijmarshausen, the chief executive officer at Shapeways. “You could make a recording when you ask your girlfriend to marry you and she says, ‘Yes’—or turn the cry of your child into a case. How personal is that?”

Or, maybe you’re a sadist and would prefer to capture the sound of a New York City subway screech.

If iPhone cases aren’t your thing, Shapeways has all kinds of other oddities on offer, including a bird’s nest egg cup, bespoke cufflinks, and even a bikini.

Vance is a technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in Palo Alto, Calif. He is the author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (HarperCollins, May 2015). Follow him on Twitter @valleyhack.

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