CES 2016: The Extraordinarily Smart Bragi Dash Wireless Biometric Sensing IEM

"Wearables" are things like smart watches that let you answer your cellphone or shoes that count your steps; "hearables" are smart headphones that track fitness stats, allow you to answer you phone with a nod of the head, and, of course, let you play music. The Bragi Dash gets to brag it's the world's first wireless smart earphone...but it won't be the last.

The Bragi Dash ($299), with something like 26 sensors, actually seems like a heck of a bargain if it performs as well as advertised. "Feature-rich" seems an inadequate adjective to me. I feel some bullets coming on:

  • Gyroscopes and accelerometers allow you to continue running or bicycling when your phone rings and answer the call with a nod of the head, or reject it with a negative shake.
  • Swipe control on the outer surface of the ear pieces allow you to accept calls, control audio playback, control activity and playlist menus, and instantiate Bluetooth pairing.
  • Audio transparency mode lets you hear the sounds around you and maintain your situational awareness for personal safety.
  • 4GB of on-board memory allow the Dash to play music without being teathered to a portable player or phone.
  • An app will soon be available to perform a wide variety of control. Audio EQ is planned for the App.
  • Both acoustic and bone conduction microphones are present and optimized for clear voice transmission.
  • The Dash will currently record heart rate, steps, and time. Additional sensing will be available in future (like perspiration and temperature, for example), accessed by a simple firmware upgrade.
  • The touch controls allow the Dash to have a completely sealed enclosure, making them extremely sweat resistant and waterproof to one meter.
  • The aluminum carry case appears more durable than a brick, and includes enough battery power to recharge the Dash earphones five times. Earphones run about three hours per charge and will receive a full recharge in about 45 minutes.

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My listen was extremely brief to unfamiliar music, but what I heard was a bit poor. There's no doubt in my mind that the listening conditions and audio material chosen were the culprit. The product use and controls were a bit confusing, but the thing does soooo much that it's going to take a solid week of use to really get a sense of what the ergonomics are like for these earphones. I have to say I'm mightily impressed that Bragi has managed to put so much in these little gems. I can't wait to get one in for a real audition. I want to taste the future, and this is certainly going to be part of it.

Lorena Poy from Bragi will fill you in on the video.