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Isabel Mahe
Most Creative People 2017

Isabel Mahe

Vice President of Wireless Technologies, Apple

For creating magic out of thin air

AirPods, the wireless earbuds Apple released just before Christmas 2016, remain a back-ordered hit because they deliver precisely the kind of “wow” features customers expect from Apple. Isabel Mahe and her team are responsible for many of them, including the seamless way AirPods connect with an iPhone and their ability to sync with two devices at once: Users can hear their Apple Watch alarm while streaming music from their iPhone. Perhaps most impressive, Mahe's team figured out how to create controls even though AirPods don’t have any buttons. Take one out of your ear and it knows to stop streaming audio. Tap twice with your finger and it can control the phone. They had experimented with numerous modes of physical interaction (shaking your head yes or no was considered but rejected), but the double-tap won out as the most Apple-like solution: “It’s what [customers] are used to right now,” Mahe says, “and the most natural way forward.” 

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