Bragi, the company that has arguably done the most innovative work in the truly wireless earbud space, has decided to exit the hardware business, having sold its product business to “a third-party buyer” in March, according to a report by Wareable.com.
The German startup gained an immediate fan base, following its Kickstarter debut in 2015, which introduced the Dash, a set of truly wireless earbuds with grand ambitions. Not content to simply create a good-sounding set of Bluetooth buds, Bragi embedded a host of sensors and chips into the Dash, 4GB of onboard memory, and made the whole thing water resistant. Though not cheap at $300, the Dash was more capable back in 2015 than the latest version of the AirPods are today. Unfortunately, Bragi’s huge scope for the Dash became its Achilles’ heel, and the product suffered from poor wireless connections and had a frustratingly complex set of touch-based controls.
Still, the campaign’s success proved that the company was on to something — the idea that wireless earbuds could be much more than a platform for audio — and continued to work on the notion of “hearables” as a new category of smart, A.I.-driven tech. Its follow-up products, the Dash Pro, and the bizarrely named The Headphone, both offered significant enhancements, especially in battery life, an improvement that has continued to elude most wireless earbud makers. The Dash Pro became the first truly wireless earbuds to offer a fully customized fit, in addition to a slew of jaw-dropping features like real-time language translation, and “4D” gesture-based controls.
Ultimately, Bragi’s ambitions were undermined by its lack of engineering and software finesse. Despite having fixed the Bluetooth connection problems that had plagued the Dash, the Dash Pro’s new features were just as buggy. Our review of the Dash Pro could be summarized with a single statement: “An extremely finicky setup process and bugs in the system cancel out many of the new benefits.” Not exactly what you want in a pair of wireless earbuds that cost up to $500.
If there’s a silver lining to the story, it’s that Bragi is holding on to its intellectual property and plans to license its many excellent ideas to other companies. It also promises that customers who bought its three products will continue to be supported “through existing channels.” We hope that this means we’ll soon be seeing new truly wireless earbuds that offer all of the amazing features of the Bragi portfolio, with the ease of use, and reliability we’ve come to expect from major manufacturers.