Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is slowly making its way out into the world, via third-party hardware that’s using Amazon’s developer tools to build it into their own products. That’s the case with OV, new headphones from OnVocal, a company that wants to make speaking to virtual assistants easier from anywhere.
The headphones claim the title of the first to include Amazon Alexa Voice and Music Services built-in, which are accessible via a dedicated Alexa button on the headset itself. The hardware also includes two beamforming microphones for better detection and accuracy when it comes to hearing voice commands, which is partly why there’s a big mic that sticks out across your cheek on the right-hand side of the headset.
This is not ideal, obviously – it makes you look a bit like an investment banker from the early 2000s. But for a headset focused on voice assistants (it’s also designed to provide access to Google and Siri via Bluetooth connection and a standard call button on the headset, in addition to its dedicated Alexa features), it makes a lot of sense.
Aside from providing mobile access to Alexa and its various Skills, OV also offers tunable sound, including voice mode for calls and ambient for letting audio from the world around you to pass through to your ears. These are adjustable via a companion mobile app.
OV features a wraparound power source and electronics housing that sits on your neck, and also promises eight hours of continuous chatting or music playback.
But what cost to put Alexa around your neck? It’s quite a bit – $399, with a ship date of January 10, 2017 for initial orders. Makes you really question how much you want Amazon’s virtual assistant to be truly omnipresent – but if the answer is “a lot,” then this gadget might be for you.