It was only the other day we were talking about how headphones could be a great gateway drug to a wearable future, so it’s with excitement that I look to Bragi today to preview its Dash in-ear, wireless, smart headphones. They even come with a charging case which can hold as much as five full charges, meaning you’ll never run out of battery life for long whilst on the go.
The biggest selling point of the Dash, at least on the surface, is that they’re wireless, hooking up to your phone or the bundled 4GB MP3 player via bluetooth 4.0 connection – meaning it doesn’t use much power up either. There’s even a built in ear-bone microphone so if you get a call, you don’t need to take them out to take it.
The audio portion of the headphones supports the new SR aptX® audio codec for high quality audio and has a digital signal processor, which Bragi claims: “improves the audio quality, mixes audio signals together and removes unwanted sound artefacts.” Around the edge of each one are LED indicators too, giving you a Tron like look, as well as an indicator of how charged they are. If they need recharging, just plug them into the accompanying carry case, since that holds as many as five charges for the headphones – though no word on how long a single charge lasts, especially when at high volume.
The 4GB MP3 player supports MP3 and AAC audio formats, with music being loaded in using a USB 2.0 connection. However that storage also holds a lot of sensor information, since these headphones do a lot more than just play music, they track a lot of information about you too.
Built into the dash is an infrared and optical sensor, which fire into and record information from the ear simultaneously, giving counts of red and white blood cells and allowing for an accurate rating of heart rate and oxygen saturation. There’s also a thermometer, a three axis accelerometer and a touch sensitive surface for music commands.
They’re also waterproof.
As it stands, you can order a developer version of the Dash headphones for a hefty $450 USD (£267) though the final release versions will cost more like $300 (£180) which while not cheap, are a lot more affordable and easier to justify than the unfinished developer kit.
With the glut of sensors, waterproofing and lack of cables, it’s hard to find a fault with the Dash headphones – as long as they’re comfortable they’ll get my vote. However I am concerned about the price. At nearly £200 (most probably more than once VAT is applied) the audience for these is going to be pretty limited.
While I’d love a pair, I’m not sure I could justify buying them over several much cheaper sets of even wireless, in-ear headphones and then grabbing one of the cheap fitness accessories to cover the other sensor offerings. It’s nice to see it all together, but due to pricing this is a premium product for a select few.