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We’re finally starting to see some real consolidation around wearable tech, and Kickstarter project The Dash is a great example of that trend in action. It’s a pair of Bluetooth in-ear headphones that also offer up performance tracking via in-built health and body sensors. With passive noise cancellation, pass-through audio transparency when you need it, and an ear bone transduction microphone, these really do seem like gadgets that take existing gadget real estate (everyone uses headphones at some point) and make the most out of it.
The Dash gets rid of wires entirely, offering instead a pair of completely discrete earbuds that can work with a connected smartphone, or completely on their own via an internal 4GB of storage for loading up your own songs directly. That would probably be enough to recommend them to athletes and active users who want to get the cables out of the way, but The Dash also has an ear bone mic that eliminates background interference, and it acts as a fully fledged activity tracker, with built-in heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy-expenditure monitoring.
You can also control playback from the on-device touch sensitive surface, as well as turn off passive audio noise cancellation to fully hear your surroundings, which is handy if you’re running in a busy city. The left bud controls your activity monitoring (you can get audio updates on your current measured stats), while the right one manages audio controls, including audio volume and playlist selection.
Dash creator Bragi, which is based in Munich, wants to turn the gadget into a broadly focused platform, however, with an SDK for third-party developers that allows them to reimagine what it can offer users. They see it as a communication device for emergency responders, for instance, or as an in-ear translation device for communicating in foreign languages, or as one part of a larger overall sensor system for use in medicine.
It’s easy to see why The Dash has raised over $250,000 of its $260,000 goal already, given the starting price of $199 for new backers for pre-order pledges. If it works as advertised, the gadget will replace a number of different devices in one convenient, comfortable package. The team has a great pedigree; CEO Nikolaj Hviid is a former design chief at Harman, and so has experience building consumer products for the mass market.
The anticipated delivery date for The Dash is October,2014, which means we don’t have long to wait to see if these really can deliver on their apparent potential. It’s not quite One Wearable To Rule Them All, but it’s getting there, and that’s welcome news for consumers overwhelmed with niche products that offer relatively little in the way of lasting value.