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Activity Tracking Comes To Earbuds And Just About Everything Else

It might seem silly, but activity-tracking headphones could make you healthier. Is the “quantified self” movement going overboard?

Activity Tracking Comes To Earbuds And Just About Everything Else
[Image: Flickr user José Manuel Ríos Valiente]

Turning one’s daily activity into streams of data has never been easier. Fitbit and Jawbone, among others, have pushed the technology and price barriers so low that companies are now building activity tracking sensors into products you might not have expected. Like earbuds, for example.

Both Intel and LG separately announced earbuds that are designed for runners to track their heart rates, even using the data to then instantly inspire better results. Why track data through earbuds? Say you’re on a run and you slip below your target heart rate–you’re not running at the pace you’d like. Since the earbuds are monitoring your heart rate, they can switch to a song with a faster tempo to help keep you on track. Intel’s earbuds will also be able to charge themselves through the headphone jack, eliminating the need for some weird adapter.

LG’s smart earphones, as they call them, are similar in function to Intel’s version, but LG is also capturing data about oxygen consumption which may affect how those exercising use the information to plan their activities. The earphones also have a small hardware piece they plug into which can clip on and transmit audio wirelessly.

Both Intel and LG will have their own apps, with LG promising support for popular third-party apps like MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal. Intel is currently looking for partners to help bring this to market while LG should be releasing its version in the first half of this year.

It makes sense to have headphones track your activity and quantify that data, even if no one was asking for it. Going off the deep end trying to quantify everything leads to products like a smart mug, and connected baby onesie, both of which Intel showed off as part of its “wearable” future. The mug was mostly there for demo purposes and won’t be shipping anytime soon. The onesie, on the other hand, is a real product and will be available shortly.

Embedded inside future onesies will be Edison, Intel’s microcomputer. With a footprint no bigger than an SD memory card, Edison will do things like monitor the baby’s body position, respiratory vitals, skin temperature, and amount of activity.

If all this tracking and monitoring sounds like too much, just wait for the smart mug to actually come to market so you can be notified via your morning coffee if your baby’s too hot or cold.


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