‘Hearable’ wearable tech makes its way into the market

Global Business

‘Hearable’ wearable devices are finding their way into the market with high expectations.
The wrist, waist and eyes were all some of the earliest targeted regions of the body to attach gadgets to, but as Mark Niu reports, there is another area being explored because of its particularly sensitivity. The ear. Its the next wave of wearables.

'Hearable' wearable tech makes its way into the market

'Hearable' wearable tech makes its way into the market

The wrist, waist and eyes were all some of the earliest targeted regions of the body to attach gadgets to, but as Mark Niu reports, there is another area being explored because of its particularly sensitivity. The ear. Its the next wave of wearables.

Intel is one of the first corporations to enter the market. It is teaming up with SMS Audio to produce BioSport earbuds. One such latest offering is an ear bud that will help figure out your heart rate. “We’ve figure out a way to harvest the power through the audio jack to power the little sensor. So there’s nothing else to learn. I call it friction-less technology, where you don’t have to learn anything, you don’t have to change your behavior.” Mike Bell from Intel said.

The race is on to be number one in hearables. Sony recently unveiled the prototype Smart B Trainer, which not only measures your heartbeat, but also gives voice commands to help you train. The trainer also helps change music for you. “It really helps because with the music, you just step to the beat and they pick the right song for you for your heart to keep it low or high or whatever,” Alicia Harris of Sony said.

The hearables competition has gone global with Danish company Jabra touting Sports Pulse Wireless earbuds and a Canadian start-up selling the world’s first smart earring called Ear-O-Smart. Analysts say the ear has an advantage in that it doesn’t move around like the wrist, which can maker readings like heart rate, blood pressure and temperature potentially more accurate. Unlike eye wear, such as Google Glass, ear buds look rather normal and are socially acceptable.

The Plantronics Voyager Bluetooth Headset helps track where the user is looking. Features like this, will help create the potential for developers to build apps that navigate or remotely control devices with the help of head movements. Gartner’s Research Director Angela McIntyre predicts hearables will be used for much more. “Bluetooth headsets will be able to verify a person’s identity. This will be useful for doing things like mobile banking, or being able to open a door lock, just by using your voice. The biometrics are combined with the voice to positively identify who is wearing the headset,” says Angela.

Some analysts predict that within three years, the hearables market will be worth more than $5 billion. McIntyre notes that consumers around the world buy around 100 million bluetooth headsets every year.