There are now plenty of wireless and true wireless Bluetooth earbuds that can survive immersion in water, but few — if any — can stay attached to your body after you’ve been rolled by a wave. But Hawaii-based SoundSwell has a solution: Its $150 Smartwatch Series headphones combine a set of IPX9K-rated Bluetooth earbuds with a necklace-style harness that can also securely house a smartwatch to create a fully wipeout-proof music setup.
The Smartwatch Series was designed to withstand the sometimes torturous conditions facing surfers, but it also solves a problem for those who simply want to swim with their tunes. Bluetooth signals can travel for more than 50 feet through the air, but once they hit the water, their ability to propagate drops off a cliff. In most cases, your source device (smartphone, media player) needs to be six inches or closer to your receiving device (earbuds).
That distance is nearly impossible to achieve even if you mount your smartphone to an armband. The Smartwatch Series closes the Bluetooth gap by letting you mount a smartwatch directly to the body of the wireless earbuds, guaranteeing that the signal will stay strong. When you’re on the beach, you’ll still be able to use your smartwatch’s cellular data connection to stream or download music from services like Apple Music, Spotify, or Pandora, and when you’re in the water, you can keep listening to any tunes that have been saved to the smartwatch.
Using a smartwatch as the source for waterproof music isn’t a SoundSwell innovation — H2oAudio already makes an Apple Watch adapter for its bone-conducting Sonar swim headphones. But that device is designed to mate to the strap of a swimmer’s goggles, which would likely be ripped from your head in a heartbeat should you wipe out while surfing. With its adjustable and securely fastened necklace, the Smartwatch Series looks like it will withstand a lot of abuse.
The headphones come with a set of Apple Watch- and Samsung Galaxy Watch-compatible adapters, letting you insert any size and any generation of these devices into the harness, where it should stay securely fastened until you’re ready to remove it. The headphones offer eight hours of continuous playing time on a full charge and come with four pairs of silicone eartips in four different sizes and designs. The built-in controls let you play, pause, track skip forward and back, and adjust the volume. They can be used with any other Bluetooth source device when you’re not using them with a smartwatch.
The SoundSwell Smartwatch Series is available for pre-order now through the SoundSwell site, with orders starting to ship on September 30 to the U.S., U.K., Australia, and South Africa. Mexico and Canada will get access to the headphones later this year.
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