The Dash is a set of Bluetooth wireless earbuds offering a host of innovative features that, taken altogether, put Uhura’s beloved earpiece to shame. Among other things, the Dash is set apart from many current Bluetooth headphones by its complete lack of wires.
The Bragi Dash’s Many Features
The Dash can be described as an MP3 player with independent 4G storage, a Bluetooth headset and a walkie-talkie, all packaged in a device so small it’s almost as inconspicuous as a hearing aid. But wait, there’s more! It also functions as a fitness tracker, a heartrate monitor, a panic button and an on-the-spot translator.
The device hasn’t yet made its commercial debut, but it’s already received accolades from the CES Innovation Awards as 2015 Best of Innovation in the headphone product category.
The Dash is being developed by Bragi, a company that philosophizes on its homepage that “electronics should be discrete enablers of delightful and magical experiences.” Bragi may have been awarded recognition for its “headphone product,” but Bragi doesn’t refer to the Dash as a set of headphones. Rather, Bragi describes the device as “the world’s first completely wireless hearable” that’s in tune with the wearer’s body. Most of the press images imply athletic wearers will benefit most from the product, which makes sense given its label as a “real-time feedback activity coach.”
The Bragi Dash Packs Lots of Technology in a Small Space
It works around two tiny microcomputers paired with biometric sensors. Its advanced motion sensors use nine axes of movement: a three-axis accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope and a three-axis magnetometer. In short, it’s a precise little machine.
The biometric sensors are the most eye-catching bit of innovation in this tiny device. The earbuds collect heart rate data by pulsating LED lights fifty times per second in the capillaries of the inner ear and then analyzing the reflections. I mean, wow. The Dash collects a “staggering number of measurements”: whether you’re biking, walking, running or swimming, the earphones can report back on movements including pace, steps and rotation.
The device will link with a free app for iOS, Android and Windows upon launch. The Dash can be used independently of a smartphone, however. In that mode, the user interface is a touchscreen on the earbud surface itself that responds to swipes and taps. That sensor, says Bragi, isn’t distorted by gloves, sweat or water. Lightweight and ergonomically fit to the four most common shapes of the human ear (as found by the company’s own three-dimensional scan study), the device promises to be both seamless and just plain cool.
Big Wireless Earbud Market
The Bragi Dash was a hit on Kickstarter in 2014. Thanks to 16,000 backers, it raised $3.3 million and far surpassed its none-too-modest goal of $260,000, according to Crowdfund Insider. That makes the campaign the twelfth most-funded campaign to date on Kickstarter.
A massive amount of funding has gone into the project, and the Dash will, predictably, not be bargain-priced. It is available for preorder now at $299.
The price tag sure isn’t as small as the device, but that evidently isn’t lessening the Dash’s appeal. The Verge raved about a demo of the device, comparing it to its not-so-sleek forerunners and contemporary wireless headphones, such as the FreeWavz and HearNotes. The device’s status as a truly unique device and a highly anticipated one, to judge by the Kickstarter response, justify its price tag. And, to be fair, that price is right in line with the less complex, non-biometric headphone designs.
The initial October 2014 release date has come and gone without the device making an appearance, but a line of recent updates on the Dash promises that the delay is due to fine-tuning, not detrimental problems. The company refers to the cause of potential delays as an “unforeseen component alteration.” According to the company website, the Dash will ship in September 2015 after the end of the “evaluation phase for the production of The Dash.”
Bragi is an impressive machine of a company with plenty to brag about. The award-winning design and engineering team is composed of forty international specialists. According to Bragi itself, the team members have an average of twenty-one years of experience in the industry, in which they’ve brought more than 400 products to market.
The Dash itself is the brainchild of CEO Nikolaj Hviid, who told the Verge that the product is also meant to function as an “assistant.” With its accelerometer, simple gestures can prompt it to report the weather forecast into your ear or answer a call—hands-free. Of course, the list of examples could go on and on.
“I imagined a discrete assistant that would entertain and take care of me,” says Hviid via the company website. “Help to understand my body, and let me know when I had reached my limit. Help me get better at what I do. The Dash is as incredible as I imagined it would be.”
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