Two distinct forms of wearable tech that are making some real waves at the moment are fitness trackers and smart headphones. You’ll no doubt have begun to see people wearing devices like the FitBit or a FuelBand out and about—wearable fitness monitors have made it to the mainstream, and many of the biggest tech companies around are now having to play catch-up to get in on the emerging marketplace. Similarly, smart headphones look like a product that’s just on the verge of that sort of success. Consumers have proven that they’re willing to pay a premium for headphones with the rise of brands like Beats by Dr. Dre, and the first few forays into making headphones ‘smart’ seem to have found a receptive audience. However, the method of making a pair of headphones ‘smart’ is rather complicated—what sort of functionality is really going to improve the product and the way that it’s used? That questions seems to have been answered by FreeWavz, a new product that combines smart headphones with fitness tracking software.
The idea seems so obvious once you’ve heard it that it’s something of a wonder that this hasn’t been tried as a speciality device before. Headphones have become an integral part of many people’s fitness regimes; whether they’re working out in the gym or going for a run round the park, rarely do you see a fitness enthusiast who isn’t sporting a pair of earbuds. This is an ideal audience to target a pair of smart headphones towards, and the fitness tracking functionality of the FreeWavz makes it something of a no-brainer for such a consumer. This is an audience that won’t want to have too many devices on their person, getting in the way of whatever form of exercise they’re taking part in, so the fact that they can integrate their fitness tracker into their headphones leaves them with one less thing to worry about, and free to focus on their sport of choice.
Of course, being smart headphones the FreeWavz are completely wireless, a draw in of itself for fitness fanatics. No more fussing over wires when you’re trying to concentrate on your movements—these headphones simply loop around your ear for a secure and comfortable fit. In fact, they’ve been designed by Ear, Nose and Throat Eric Hensen to his very stringent medical standards, making sure that they won’t cause any problems for the health of your ears. In his work, Hensen has seen plenty of evidence of the damage that improperly designed or inserted headphones can do to the delicate ear canal, with any or jamming or twisting upon insertion being liable to injure your ears. To that end, he made sure that the FreeWavz didn’t have to be inserted into the ear in such a way, simply looping around the top of your earlobe to ensure that they won’t fall off as you head out to exercise. It’s safer than the traditional design of a pair of headphones, better suited to use during exercise and there haven’t been any compromises made in terms of sound quality.
All that being said, it’s the fitness tracking functionality of the FreeWavz that will no doubt be their main selling point. The designers of the device have come up with an interface that plays to the strengths of a pair of headphones, allowing you to keep up to date with your performance through audio notifications. It works in much the same way as any other fitness tracker in terms of set up—a companion app for your smartphone needs to be tethered to the headphones, and from that point on they will share information to keep track of your exercise. You can then customize what in particular you want to be updated on and how frequently you want to hear about it. For instance, if you were looking to monitor your heart rate, you could set it up such that your FreeWavz would make an announcement to you whenever you hit your target heart rate, as well as stating your heart rate every ten minutes. Then, your music would pause from time to time as you did your exercise so that those statistics could be read out to you.
It’s a simple system that allows for a great deal of customization—the range of options available to you will allow you to track the specifics of any aspect of your fitness that you might want to. It’s the sort of highly-customizable, user-centric fitness tracking that’s becoming all the rage as fitness wearables reach their second generation, so it’s impressive to see these features integrated so well into a device that’s so new to the marketplace. Put in conjunction with the hugely appealing foundation of a high quality pair of wireless headphones, this is the sort of product that could easily take the market by storm, and that’s exactly what seems to be happening in the early days of its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
Despite the project only having been on the service for two days as of the time of writing, more than $20,000 USD has already been contributed to further its development, putting it well on track to reach its goal of $300,000 USD. Looking at the product that’s on offer—and the sort of price that you’ll get it for as part of the crowdfunding campaign—it’s not very difficult to see why it’s doing so well. FreeWavz are intended to cost $299 USD when they are sold at retail, but as a special Kickstarter-only early bird promotion, you can buy your pair for the bargain price of just $179 USD. Given that that’s nigh on half price, you can see why so many are flocking to be amongst the first to use the FreeWavz for themselves. However, only 1000 units are available at that special price, and that number is being snatched up very quickly. There are still six weeks of the campaign left to go, but it’s almost a sure bet that there won’t be any of the early bird models left by the time it comes to a close. Should the Kickstarter campaign have a successful outcome, the first run of FreeWavz are expected to be with backers by December of this year.