Health and Wellness Music

RealLoud heaphones protect your ear from cranked-up tunes

Our parents always warned us about listening to our music too loudly, but the rebels within all of us never listened, preferring to instead crank it up to the max to enjoy our music. Loud music that crackles in your ear and almost hurts is good after all, right? Well, as much as we might have enjoyed the albums of yesteryear, the increased use of earphones due to the MP3 revolution has clearly shown the auditory consequences of these practices. Unfortunately, the headphone industry has responded to this criticism with larger, louder, and bassier headphones that compound the problem.

The increasing number of both teens and adults with mild to severe hearing loss caught audio legend Stephen D. Ambrose’s attention and he, along with his company Asius Technologies, has created RealLoud Technology as a result. The product reduces harmful pressure experienced by wearing ordinary headphones using bio-mimicry, or the imitation of nature through technology, to include a built-in secondary eardrum to absorb them for you. As a result, louder, more complete sound is produced by eliminating the pressures associated with unnecessary noise, even if actual volume is technically quieter overall. This is the crux of the RealLoud Technology, and the key behind the entire series of 1964|Adel headphones.

Three lines of headphones incorporate the RealLoud Technology. The Ambient line is for casual audiophiles and features up to 12 drivers, the U-Series is an over-the-ear headphone with up to eight drivers, and the A-Series feature up to 12 drivers and are custom to your own ear impressions. With price points ranging from $100 to $1,600, there are options for everyone, all estimated to be delivered between February and May of 2015. The campaign has a funding goal of $200,000.

It’s about time solutions are created for the problems caused by the consumer market itself, and although the 1964|Adel headphones have a pretty high cost of entry, their development is a sign that the technology is being thought about. Soon, they’ll trickle down and hopefully become standard across the board. The cheek is too often turned in the name of profits, and although here profits are still had, at least it’s propped up by actual innovation.

Music Wearables

Soundglass builds bone-conducting sound into a pair of shades

The next big thing in headphones is to offer extra functions, certain styles, or increased audio fidelity. These features are welcome to those who love to have sound and music with them wherever they go, but it doesn’t really change the fundamental technology.

The Buhel SOUNDglass SG05 is a step in a direction so far out of left field that it’s a complete shot in the arm to headphone technology. It’s a pair of sunglasses that only touches the ears to hold the glasses. Buhel SOUNDglass uses Bone Conduction Technology, a means of audio amplification that sends vibrations through parts of the skull to give users the same kind of sound quality they expect while keeping their ears free and available to hear the world around them. Atellani, the creators of the Buhel SOUNDglass SG05, are trying to raise $110,000 to fund tooling and production. Supporters can get a pair for $165, shipped out in February of next year.

This is a product so revolutionary that it’s easy to get excited over. However, few people have had the opportunity to hear audio through Bone Conduction Technology, and it may be hard to take the risk. This is a truly innovative product however, and could open a whole new product space for future headphone/glasses combinations.


Mysiga lets music lovers rest their head while they feed it

MysigaListening to music can be one of the most relaxing ways to unwind at the end of a long day. But if a person wants to use headphones, lying down is not a comfortable option. This can be especially frustrating for those who are bedridden, which was exactly the case for the husband of Mysiga’s creator. The health challenges of her hospitalized husband spurred her to create puffy headphones that would allow for music to be enjoyed while lying on either the back or sides. For $125, early bird backers get one product with an expected delivery of January 2015.

Music Wearables

Vow smart headphones seek to marry brains and beautiful music

vowAs the internet of Things continues to grow and encompass more objects, it’s no surprise that headphones are looking to turn to a standalone experience. Following in the footsteps of Streamz, which focused primarily on the online experience. Vow wants to master online, offline, and social. The Vow headphones themselves are a little chunky, but the inventors assure that it’s because these speakers can deliver a quality sound as well as they stream. Even more intriguing is the screen that allows for others nearby to see what users are listening to. The Vow is shipping in September for $399.

Apparel Tech Accessories

iLanyard provides another option for staying close to your buds

iLanyardEarbuds are constantly getting tangled and bunched up in the wrong way which can cause them to break or get lost. The iLanyard keeps your earbuds in place while you’re wearing them. It attaches to both wires on either side and loops around the back of your neck, much like a lanyard for glasses. Other earbud solutions, like the Snap and Nunchuk, get the job done well, but cannot be used while actually listening to music or talking on the phone. One of these goes for $8 on Kickstarter with an estimated delivery date of July 2014. The iLanyard needs to raise $8,000 in a 20-day campaign.

Music Wearables

Streamz headphones kick out streaming jams without the smartphone

streamzWhether on the commute to work or while doing chores around the house, listening to music on a good set of headphones seems to make the world a better place. It can be relatively cumbersome, however, to keep headphones handy and use a smartphone music player or app to get to those favorite tracks. The Streamz smart headphones have an Android processor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, enabling it to function as the music player itself, even for streaming services such as Pandora. While there have been other music players built into even lighter weight (albeit non-networked) headphones, Streamz features navigation buttons on the side of the earcup, as well as intended voice control integration, Streamz allows users to get great sound quality and waste no time in setup. The basic 4GB model is available in August to backers who pledge $299.

Tech Accessories

earMC plays earbud management close to the vest

earMC  20140309094031-earMC_jog2[1]Dooh! Those pesky earphone and headphone wires! They can get as tangled as wild vines in a forest and really complicate things when you just want to hear some good music during your workout routine or other activities. Whether your exercise of choice is hiking, jogging, cycling, or some other activity, earMc not only keeps those wires under control, but lets you look stylish, too. The small accessory item holds wires in place through magnetic force and comes in several color options. For $7, backers can choose from five colors, or $9 offers a jeweled heart or diamond style. Expected delivery is April 2014. If this seems interesting, you might also want to check out  Nearbuds and Nearbuddy.


Dash wireless earbud headset whispers entertainment, information into your ear

editors-choiceThe Premise. Headphones have come a long way since being a simple wire connecting two hard plastic cups covered in a thin foam. Ergonomic, performance, and technological advancements have slowly evolved the headphone to its current state, but at its best, it is still a device that has to rely on something else to function.

The Product. Bragi LLC’s The Dash Wireless In-Ear Headphones are the first smart earbuds out there. With no cables whatsoever, each pair of headphones inserts into each ear and can be gently pressed or swiped to control playlists, volume, or track fitness performance. The Dash can sync up to a phone for music playback or to take calls, but will also function on its own. However, as one might expect from the tiny size, battery life is limited with three  hours of playback on its battery life and  4 GB of non-expandable space to store music without using any other device. The fitness tracker can report heart rate, body temperature, distance, speed, and altitude among other things.

The Pitch. Designer Nikolaj Hviid introduces us to The Dash as his vision for the future of headphones. A series of clips shows us all the different features available and how seamlessly they work with or without the app. Afterwards, Olympic Triathlete Helle Frederiksen gives her endorsement for the headphones as a companion for fitness, and the design behind The Dash is explained. Pictures that accompany the campaign explain what each Dash comes with, all the specs and features, and what each reward tier includes. Bragi needs $260,000 to order plastic injection tools, develop prototypes, get certifications, and more.

The Perks. Shipping in November of this year, to get your hands on The Dash will cost $179, which is a $120 markdown from the suggested retail price. Developers who which to employ Dash headphone functionality with their app or who want to develop add-ons to the existing app will get a series of prototypes and access to the developer kit in July for $299.

The Potential. We’ve seen MP3 player headphones before, but the Dash is a miniature marvel. If Bragi delivers all of its promises on The Dash, this could be the template that all high-end headphones follow going forward. Fitness enthusiasts, business travelers, and tech junkies alike will want a pair, making the suddenly bulky-looking Bluetooth earpieces of the present obsolete.  While they appear sleek and simple, The Dash might find fast traction as the perfect companion to Google Glass.

Cell Phone Accessories Music

Sharebuds MX2 retract the cable, share the music

The Premise. Ever wanted to show a friend a video on your phone, or wanted to let them listen to a song? Most people just pop one of their earbuds out and hand it over — but this results in a diminished sound value and some questionable transfer of ear wax.

The Product. Sharebuds were inspired when the developers saw known-by-first-name celebs Oprah and Bono listening to a song on a Project(Red) iPod. Rather than rely on a simple — or not-so-simple — splitter, their solution combines two pairs of headphones on one cord — one to wear and one to share. The newest perk of the MX2 redesign is that both sets of earbuds are now retractable, which makes them more useful as daily wear headphones. Just tuck the extra pair away and go on your way, as you might hear Fleetwood Mac singing if I could share their song with you.

The Pitch. The video is not anything special. It doesn’t ever actually show how the product works, though. It just looks like two people wearing separate pairs of headphones. You have to scroll down the page to actually see a shot of the whole headphones set as well as a wide range of folks with different relationships — father and son, mother and daughter, couples Yes, you’re far more likely to share music with those you know than complete strangers. Also provided is a collage of audio sources — everything from Spotify to Netflix. Since Sharebuds don’t rely on any software, copy protection isn’t an issue. There are also quotes from a number of celebrities, including Tom Arnold, Selena Gomez, Hoobastank and Plato, although the last one probably wasn’t approved by his PR team. The project owners are also teasing a wireless version of the Sharebuds in a more traditional headphone design due in December 2014.

The Perks. The Sharebuds MX2 will be available in May 2014 at a price of $79, but the developers are doing something interesting to take advantage of the holiday giving season offering you to buy a special $50 gift card that can be redeemed for a pair at a discount. This could set a precedent in how project owners allow people to take advantage of gifting when their actual products are months away.

The Potential. It’s tough to say how good the Sharebuds’ audio quality is. Most people, while having many of the relationships featured in the campaign, don’t need to share headphones too often and retractable coils are prone to wear out. It might be useful to take the Sharebuds along if you know you’ll be traveling with a friend or loved one with whom you share music tastes. But if they bring their own buds, a splitter and a spare pair may do just as well.