Intel’s smart earbuds pick music based on your heart rate

14 January 2014

This year’s CES had plenty of wearable tech, of which one of our favourite picks is Intel's smart earbuds that monitor your heart rate and give you health advise or match songs accordingly.

The earbuds use biometric data, combined with an app on your smartphone, to decide what kind of music you should be listening to. If your heart rate increases, so does the tempo of the tracks you’re listening to. If you slow down, the music adjusts accordingly.

There’s apparently a decent gap between changing your heart rate and the switch in music to allow you to catch your breath without inadvertently mixing up your workout soundtrack.

The buds also fulfill a similar function to a fitness wristband, which is great when you consider that a lot of people already wear earbuds every day. They can track your run, estimate burned calories and, as previously mentioned, read your heart rate.

The best part is that there's no new power source required; the headphones take power straight from your headphone jack and apparently use the same port to communicate with your phone. That's good thinking.

What, is that it?

Our excitement may seem overdone. Pulse-taking earbuds have a pretty limited use compared to other wearable tech, so why would we be so excited? There’s one simple reason: we already wear earbuds regularly, so why not augment them with some sensors and processing power?

The big problem with most wearable tech is that it introduces yet another gadget in to our lives. It's always one more gadget to charge, keep track of and replace every couple of years. In this particular case you can now ditch that fitness band around your wrist without ditching your new tech-assisted healthy lifestyle.

Think about it for a second. Google Glass is a cool idea, but it’s pretty intrusive and a bold fashion leap for most folk. Smartwatches are also cool, but most people don’t actually wear watches anymore so once again we're adding another device when we could just upgrade one we already have. Augmentation is better than addition any day of the week.

This got us thinking, what other stuff do we have in our lives that could do with a dose of extra tech? Our list wasn’t long and mostly pretty pointless, although we think our GPS/Bluetooth belt with built-in vibrating notifications for geolocation-based alerts could be a money maker.

Then again maybe not.

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