Apple maybe ditching the 3.5mm jack, wireless headphones are the fastest growing segment in the industry and convenience that works with audio performance is paramount.
A small German audio company named Bragi has taken this to a whole new level, by launching Dash, the "world's first wireless smart earphones."
Bragi first got attention in 2014 with a flashy idea on Kickstarter: truly wireless earbuds with a portable charging case, health tracking, a sleek design, and a personal assistant that could be likened to Scarlett Johansson's Samantha in Her . And just like the Freedom 251, before anyone could prove the veracity of their claims, around 16,000 backers pledged $3.4 million in support of the Dash.
Bragi brought the first prototype of the Dash to the 2015 edition of the CES, with plans of the first units being shipped out by April. It sounded nice enough, but the touch controls were finicky or didn't work. It was no wonder then that the April release date was pushed back to November.
At the IFA in September of last year, the Dash was still in beta. Most of the features were in place, but the performance still had bugs. And their backers were getting antsy. Especially when the November date came and went by.
However, by the time CES happened in January, Bragi was in full form. Having shipped out 4500 units and the rest going out in February.
Bragi also completely utilized the extra time by making them truly smart.
There are lots of interesting little touches. For instance, every time you swipe up on the right earbud to increase the volume, a very soft tone rings while using it, at increasingly higher volumes. That's the kind of feedback you need when you're using a touch interface you literally can't see.
The Bragi Dash earbuds are Bluetooth headphones, but that only describes the connection from the phone to the earbuds themselves. Bluetooth was originally how the earbuds interacted with each other (and passed music from the left one to the right one), but Bragi ditched Bluetooth for a newer technology called Near Field Magnetic Induction. Switching from Bluetooth to NFMI was one of the reasons that Bragi had to be delayed.
It's something that's used in the hearing aid industry, and it's able to penetrate your head (and everything inside it) much more reliably than Bluetooth can.
Bragi wants the Dash to be much more than just an earphone for your music. There's also fitness tracking, motion commands, and a few other software features.
There are also a few nifty gestures that work brilliantly. For example, if you receive a call while you're wearing the Dash, all you have to do is nod your head to accept or reject the call (up and down for accept, left and right to reject). And they're tuned to be highly sensitive. Even subtle nods can be picked up by the Dash. In fact,you might just hang up on your calls by mistake due to involuntary reactions!
But the best feature by far is that the Dash can allow outside noise to pass through into the earbuds. Since the earbuds create a very good seal, and have noise cancellation as well. With the Dash, you just swipe on the left earbud and the ambient noise around you suddenly appears in your earbuds. Better yet, Bragi has done some especially tricky software work to make that ambient noise sound like it's coming from the corresponding direction. If someone is speaking to the right of you, it sounds like their voice is coming from that direction.
Although Bragi has a lot to prove and competitors like Phazon and Apple's speculated Wireless EarPods going up against it, the fact remains that the Dash is probably the best the world has to offer in terms of truly wireless earbuds.
Whether they're actually the future of wireless sound, that remains to be seen.
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