Headphones are a fitness gym staple, but they’ve changed little in their functionality over the years. While they vary in form factor and size, they all basically fit over or inside your ear and let you rock your tunes. We’ve found that the ear, however, is a great point of sensing on your body for all kinds of biometrics and fitness data. A new kind of earphone announced this week by Orlando, Florida-based FreeWavz, hopes to make earphones a little more useful by utilizing the ear’s unique anatomy to turn them into a fully-featured fitness wearable.
The earphones, also called FreeWavz, were developed by Dr. Eric Hensen, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon who is also an avid weightlifter. During a chat and product demo with Dr. Hensen, he explained to us that some of his inspiration came from the constant frustration of his earbuds coming out while lifting. He realized not only that wireless earphones would be a huge improvement, but he could design the earphone to incorporate a pulse oximeter to help monitor the intensity of his workouts. With the addition of a three-axis accelerometer, the FreeWavz became capable of monitoring heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled, duration of workout, and oxygen saturation.
The FreeWavz are also a quality listening device as well. Each earphone can be operated independently and has a separate volume control and a six frequency equalizer that can be programmed through an iOS and Android app. The same app collects and displays all the biometric data captured. The shape of the FreeWavz itself was also specially designed so it fits snuggly, but comfortably around your ear and directs sound up and into the ear canal for optimal sound quality. In situations where users may want to maintain some situational awareness, such as during cycling, the FreeWavz also have a microphone to pass a programmable amount of environmental noise through.
If an activity tracker and a pair of high-quality earphones weren’t enough, the FreeWavz can also send and receive phone calls and provide real-time audible fitness alerts about your progress. Its battery lasts 6-8 hours and FreeWavz will also release an application development kit so programmers can develop and further expand on the earphone’s functionality.
FreeWavz launches on Kickstarter for $179 and will ship in October.
Pre-order page on Kickstarter: FreeWavz: Smart Earphones with Built-in Fitness Monitoring