50 Cent’s SMS Audio is holding an event in NYC tonight, but the cat’s out of the bag: the product to be unveiled is a new fitness tracking in-ear headset, which is entirely Intel inside – the technology used was originally developed by Indira Negi, an Intel engineer who created Intel’s smart earbuds reference design, which is what the SMS Audio product will basically be, with 50 Cent/SMS branding on the outside.
The product was leaked earlier today by Gizmodo, and our own sources confirm that the earbud, dubbed the BioSport In-Ear, is indeed on track for its big unveiling today. These headphones are made to provide fitness buffs with a way to track their run without having to resort to carrying multiple devices, and that actually use workout data to inform playback details on the fly. Negi studied biolectronics in graduate school, and is herself a dedicated runner, leading to her desire to want to create a device that could fix her main annoyances while exercising.
“I am a runner — I get hives from the sun, I have to run with gloves on,” Negi explains in an article on the Intel-run publication the Intel Free Press in an article around the device’s unveiling at CES this year. “That means when there is a bad song, I have to take out my phone, take off my gloves, unlock my phone and change the song.”
The earbuds monitor a wearer’s heart rate using embedded sensors, and can work with software on a user’s device to use that data in order to change music tracks to influence your ability to stay in your target heart rate zone (meaning it’ll play tracks with a faster tempo if you’re below your target, or slower if you’re pushing too hard).
These earbuds will also be wired, according to our information, so that wearers don’t need to worry about charging or pairing as you would with a Bluetooth device, and they also include accelerometers to help compensate for a runner’s motion in order to correctly determine and record heart rate data. The corded connection also powers the sensors, as it draws its required energy from the 3.5mm jack, and it uses this connector to transmit data to the smartphone for processing and engineering too.
Wristworn heart rate running accessories like the TomTom GPS Cardio watch are a big improvement over chest-worn versions, but getting real-time heart rate feedback – which can actually be used with fitness apps – from the in-ear headset you’re already wearing is a huge advantage in terms of comfort and convenience. Brands that aren’t Beats trying to succeed in the headphone space are likely nervous about Apple backing the Dre-powered brand, but these fitness track earbuds could help attract some attention back from Apple’s latest acquisition.
Update: An Intel spokesperson has provided us images of the SMS Audio earbuds. A release from the company confirms that the earbuds are derived from Intel’s reference device and notes that data from the earbuds will sync with the popular Runkeeper fitness application upon release. It goes on to say that “additional application support” is planned for the future, leaving open the possibility that you’ll eventually be able to use SMS Audio’s earbuds with Apple’s HealthKit, Google Fit, or Intel-acquiree Basis’s health-tracking software.
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Photo credit: Intel Free Press licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0