Intel is debuting a set of fitness-focused earbuds that could help you pick up the pace. The in-ear headphones not only measure your heart rate while playing music, but a personal assistant also advises you to run faster when you’re falling behind.
Intel plans to launch its set of smart earbuds in the middle of 2014, but details such as pricing haven’t been made available yet. The chipmaker is working on a partnership with another manufacturer to bring these earbuds to market, although the company hasn’t announced any further information just yet.
The smart earbuds serve as an alternative to the traditional heart rate monitor which usually fits around one’s chest to gain an accurate reading. The device’s sensors are housed in one earbud, keeping the design relatively similar to standard earbuds. One of our favorite characteristics of Intel’s smart earbuds, however, is its virtual coach that uses your music to motivate you throughout your run.
The earbuds' companion app measures songs on your workout playlist in beats per second. If you’re lagging behind your preset heart rate goal, a digital coach will warn you to pick up the pace. After four warnings, the app will automatically switch to a different song with a quicker pace. This feature is optional, so if you’re not in the mood to be coached you can listen to your music as you typically would while running. Intel says that the app’s APIs will be open to developers so that the earbuds can integrate with third party applications such as Runkeeper.
Intel wouldn’t let us try on the earbuds during our demo, but the rubbery earpiece felt soft and flexible. In terms of design, the smart earbuds don’t look much different than your average in-ear headphones, despite Intel’s addition of sensors in one piece.
The component maker is one of many tech companies delving into the wearable fitness space at this year’s CES. LG announced its own pair of fitness earbuds that integrate with its upcoming health app and Lifeband Touch fitness band.