MonsterTalk is a voice-activated personal assistant built into your headphones

MonsterTalk Headphones
Monster

“The aha moment came when I was at the gym and on the elliptical,” explained Dean Summers, president and founder of Speak Music. “I had my headphones on and I wanted to hear something in particular. I pick up my phone, the phone goes flying,” he said. “I had to stop what I was doing. And I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if you could just say what you wanted to hear without taking off your headphones?”

Anyone who’s ever fumbled with a smartphone at the gym or a few miles into a run knows exactly what he’s talking about. We’ve all been there: A screen that won’t respond to your fumbling, sweaty fingers; frustration growing as you mash at the phone and try not to trip. Voice control is being embedded into everything these days, from cars to lightbulbs (really!), but here’s one area where it actually makes sense.

At the CES gadget show in Las Vegas in January, his company unveiled Melody, an app that acts as a “personal assistant” of sorts that lets you request songs, albums, radio stations, and more with your voice. And later at the show, Monster announced plans to build the software directly into its headphones. Today, Monster has finally unveiled the MonsterTalk family of voice-controlled headphones.

“You’ve got platforms like Alexa or Google that do everything from turn on the lights to whatever. Music’s a side note. But in terms of use case it’s really important,” explained James Peterson, product area manager with Monster, who visited Digital Trends New York office recently to show off the fruits of their collaboration. “What Melody’s done is bring the focus into controlling your music, rather than worrying about the lights or dishwasher or anything else.”

melody app

The app does that through deep integration with a variety of music services, Summers claims, including Spotify, iHeartRadio, NPR, iTunes, Tidal (soon, anyway), and more. It’s the breadth and depth of control that sets his app apart, he says.

“We’re the Switzerland of voice control,” Summers told us.

Similar functionality probably comes included in your smartphone. Siri can control iTunes, but Apple limits its ability to connect with the other services. Likewise, Google is “optimized” for Google’s own Play services.

“We go deep in each of those verticals,” Summers says.

But just having an app doesn’t mean people will download it, nor that it will be tweaked and honed for a particular device. Enter Monster and the top of the line Elements headphones, the ClarityHD lineup, and the fitness focused iSport Freedom V2. Firmware in the headphones ensures that the mic is optimized for an ideal user experience. The headphones feature a capacitive control in the right earphone: Swipe up and down to raise or lower the volume, right and left to shuffle your tunes, and tap it twice to active voice controls.

Melody-enabled headphones will officially make their debut at the Made in America Music Festival September 2-3 in Philadelphia. You can download the app from the iTunes music store and from the Google Play store.