BERLIN - If you want to know everything about your workout, a simple pedometer won't cut it anymore; you need to know how fast your heart is pumping. The Jabra Sports Pulse Wireless Earbuds can monitor heart rate accurately across a variety of activities without cumbersome chest straps.
I got a chance to go hands-on (or ears-on, if you prefer) with the Sports Pulse at IFA 2014, and learned a little something about human anatomy in the process. While it's true that many smartwatches monitor your heart rate, they don't do it very well due to the thick skin around the wrist. The thin skin and rapid blood flow to the ears supposedly provides a much more accurate measurement to a tiny LED sensor in the earbuds.
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The Sports Pulse works in conjunction with an Android and iOS app that does pretty much everything you'd need a fitness app to do. You can set goals for your heart rate based on your sex, weight, size and age, and choose from a variety of exercises.
The earbuds can count steps for activities like walking and running, but others, like skiing, are more dependent on heart rate. You can even program your own exercises, like martial arts (for what it's worth, I don't recommend doing martial arts while wearing earbuds).
Beyond that, the Sports Pulse is a fairly standard set of Bluetooth headphones, complete with a built-in mic for taking phone calls. The battery will last five days with regular music and talking, and recharges via a standard microUSB cable. Users can select from a variety of earpieces to ensure a tight fit, and the app will even run a series of tests to help prevent them from falling out.
We'll need to give the Sports Pulse a full review before we vouch for how well it monitors heart rate, but if nothing else, it does seem to have science on its side. The Sports Pulse retails for $200 and is available for purchase now, with orders shipping in October.