You’ve heard of smartphones, smartwatches, and maybe even smartpants, but a German outfit called Bragi is using Kickstarter to gather steam for an entirely new concept: smart headphones. The so-called Dash headphones not only offer the usual slate of advanced features like Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a built-in mic, they perform all sorts of functions that have nothing to do with audio.
The Dash tracks the body’s performance during exercise, monitoring speed, time, distance and cadence, as well as heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy spent. All of these statistics are monitored in real-time. For instance, a demo video for the Dash shows a skier hearing his heartrate, speed, drop rate, pulse and pace during a run. Apparently the headphones achieve this with some very delicate little tools: a 3-axis accelerometer, infrared LED and optical sensor, a five-field capacitive sensor, and even a 32-bit ARM processor like you might find in a smartphone.
Even if you have no interest in using the Dash for their athlete-focused properties, the smart headphones offer up even more impressive features. For instance, the headphones offer passive noise isolation to say, let you sleep on a plane, but you can also turn on “audio transparency” to pass through ambient noise when you need it, like riding a bike. The Dash are completely water-resistant (the video shows a surfer using the ‘phones) and an embedded 4GB music player can hold roughly 1,000 songs to play when you don’t have a phone connected. The Dash can also double as a Bluetooth headset using an embedded ear bone microphone, which picks up mechanical vibration generated by your voice from the ear bone, helping to eliminate background noise.
So far, Bragi has received nearly double its goal of $260,000, and the backers keep coming with 46 more days to go. We watched it gain nearly 100 backers in about 10 minutes. The Dash “Early Bird” special is sold out, so you can’t preorder them for $180 anymore, but you can pledge $200 and still save roughly $100 on the suggested retail price upon its release later this year (there are 6,565 spots left for this pledge category).