Intel and 50 Cent Headphones That Measure Your Heart Rate

Intel is teaming up with 50 Cent’s SMS Audio to develop headphones designed for fitness and athletes.

Back at CES 2014, Intel showed off a prototype of earphones that can measure heart rate. Intel wasn’t the only company with that idea; LG also showed off heartbeat monitoring earphones and actually has its product available for sale now.

Intel has taken the prototype it showed off at CES and partnered with SMS Audio to make the headphones. The SMS Audio BioSport in-ear headphones powered by Intel (say that five times fast) will be part of the existing SMS Audio Sport Collection, which features NBA star Carmelo Anthony as its spokesman.

Led by CEO Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, SMS Audio focuses on the same market dominated by Apple-owned Beats Electronics. The company sells a range of wired and wireless headphonesin assorted designs and with different target markets.

Michael Bell, the general manager and corporate vice president of Intel’s New Devices Group, discussed the partnership on a briefing call with analysts. “At Intel, we know what we’re good at and what we’re not.” Working with SMS Audio, Bell said, means the final product sounds even better and and is more attune to the needs of the consumer.

A ‘seamless’ solution for wearable fitness

Intel is not the only company with the idea to put a heart rate monitor inside earbuds. According to Bell, what separates the BioSport headphones from other biometric buds (such as the pair available from LG) is that the headphones and heart-rate monitor are all in one piece.

With LG’s solution, the user has to attach the earbuds to a clip-on medallion. It then connects to a music device over Bluetooth to stream music.

The BioSport, in contrast, looks and acts just like a regular pair of headphones. No batteries are required — just plug them in to a a 3.5mm headphone jack and you’re done.

The BioSport will be compatible with the popular RunKeeper fitness app to start, with additional app support planned for the future.
Bell says RunKeeper is “as close to a universal standard of fitness data” as exists on the market. He’s not wrong. In a sea of fitness apps, RunKeeper consistently supports the most devices, accessories and platforms. Bell says that starting with RunKeeper means the BioSport headphones will be instantly actionable and useful out of the box. “We didn’t want to force users to use another app,” he said, perhaps taking a jab at LG and Samsung, who offer their own branded solutions.

The headphones are also designed to be sweat and water resistant, meaning users can feel free to use them in the rain or while working up a major sweat. Just make sure your smartphone is waterproof!

Price and availability

Intel and SMS Audio wouldn’t release specifics surrounding the price and availability of the SMS Audio BioSport headphones other than to say fourth quarter 2014. As for the price, both companies declined to give specifics, except to say it would be “in line” with what’s available in the headphone space. When pressed, it was confirmed that the price point would be below $150.

The only images we have of the headphones are renderings, but the design looks similar to SMS Audio’s line of products.

The integrated nature of the hear-rate monitor is smart; using the microphone cable to transfer information makes a ton of sense. The overall wearable market is still in its infancy, but as the success of Fitbit has proven simplicity and ease of use are very important. This is even more true when talking about fitness-oriented wearables.

>My only concern is with the ways the headphone data can be intelligently used. Launching with RunKeeper support is great but I wish Intel had plans to publicly announce an API for third-party developers. I keep thinking how great it would be if there was a music application that could change the tempo of a song based on your heart rate and the activity you are performing. That could be a way to further gamify the exercise process for optimal cardio efficiency.

Furthermore, I would love to know if Intel plans on making any of the sensor data accessible to the built-in health platforms being developed by Apple and Google, respectively.


Author: Christina Warren
Source: Mashable