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Will Apple Challenge Intel's Next-Generation Earbuds with Built-In Biometrics Later this Fall?

In a patent report that we posted back in late December 2013 we noted Apple stating that "In some embodiments, an accessory coupled to the electronic device could be used to detect a user's heart rate. For example, the leads could be located in one or more earbuds or in a headset, for example." In a second patent that came to light earlier that same month, Apple stated that a second device, namely the iPhone, could communicate to an "earpiece" via Siri. In general, commands and information could be exchanged between the iPhone and another electronic device via a form of Bluetooth. Both patents were filed months if not years earlier. Then in January 2014 Intel made an announcement mirroring Apple's patent pending invention at CES. According to Intel, they had invented earbuds with a heart rate monitor that accepted verbal instructions via a digital assistant that they called "Jarvis." Yesterday Intel made further announcements regarding the launch of their new earphone systems scheduled to hit the street later this year.


To get an overview of Intel's earbud invention, take a look back at their 2014 CES announcements here.



On Thursday Intel proudly announced that their new earbud system was coming to market this fall. Their press release in-part reads as follows:


"SMS Audio LLC, a premier audio headphone and accessories brand from Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, together with Intel Corporation announced a collaboration to develop the first heart-pounding personal audio system converging lifestyle and technology innovation for an exceptional fitness experience. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones powered by Intel will bring smart exercise capabilities to athletes of all levels later this year.


With today's announcement, Intel and SMS Audio are merging lifestyle requirements with technology innovation to enhance the fitness experience. The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones powered by Intel will extend the recently launched SMS Audio Sport Collection and harness advanced technology features to deliver high-quality audio while gathering actionable data on fitness progress.


"The wearable technology collaboration between SMS Audio and Intel elevates our capability to bring smart exercise to consumers," said Brian M. Nohe, president of SMS Audio. "With the introduction of the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones powered by Intel, we're now the first to provide this level of integrated, seamless and helpful biometric information to inspire customers to advance their fitness experiences."


"Intel is focused on driving innovation in the wearable technology segment by partnering with lifestyle brands like SMS Audio that complement our technology and design expertise," said Michael Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.


"With SMS Audio, we will bring smart headphones to market that eliminate the inconvenience of add-on devices with an integrated, one-device fitness accessory offering high-end style and premier sound quality for an exceptional fitness experience. This is a prime example of Intel driving innovation in wearable devices while being a forerunner in merging lifestyle and technology."


SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphone Highlights


The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones powered by Intel will deliver an exceptional experience while working out without sacrificing audio quality for those who demand more from life and more from music. The headphones will integrate biometric sensors in a custom heart rate monitor in-ear headphone to empower athletes to collect fitness data and achieve peak physical performance. A patented ear-hook design ensures a comfortable fit while an energy-harvesting audio jack removes the need for extra batteries or chargers.


Fusing Fitness with Technology: A built-in optical sensor that continuously measures heart rate during intense exercise, states of relaxation and every moment in between - while dynamically removing noise signals caused by body motion and ambient light.


•One-Device Workout Accessory for Ultimate Comfort: A jointly developed heart rate monitor in-ear headphone will put an end to the less convenient, less comfortable chest strap-style monitor while delivering reliable and consistent heart rate monitoring to enable peak performance and progress tracking.


•Tuned-in Fitness: Listen to music as a way to stay motivated and reach optimal levels of fitness while gathering useful data about the user's health.


•No Batteries or Charging Required: Eliminate the need to charge the headphones with a 3.5 mm gold-plated audio jack that powers the biometric monitoring capabilities so users have the freedom of on-the-go power.


•Sweat and Water Resistant: No need to worry about working out too hard or in the rain because the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones are IPX4 rated for protection against sweat and resistance to water.


•Sync with RunKeeper: To help track your heart rate, pace, distance, elevation and calorie burn, the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear Headphones will be compatible with popular mainstream fitness app RunKeeper, with additional application support planned in the future. RunKeeper support will enable users to plan fitness routines and track progress – pushing enthusiasts to reach peak performance.


•Accessories: The headphones will come with a tangle-free cord with an in-line microphone, neoprene carrying case, and three sizes of ear gels and hooks.


Will Apple Spoil Intel's Party?


This is going to be an interesting development. Intel with SMS Audio will use Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson to promote their new earphones with advanced biometrics using Jarvis (the digital assistant not mentioned in the press release).


Apple on the other hand now has Beats Music in their family. Apple's earbuds and Beats headphones could integrate their own patent pending biometric technology that we outlined earlier in our report. The headsets could wirelessly work with the upcoming iPhone 6 Health App and/or with a possible revolutionary iWatch-like device. Apple could use Dr. Dre or one of the many music artists that Beats Music works with to help promote the new headsets to counter Curtis Jackson.




On paper it looks and sounds like an epic battle could be brewing for this fall between the two tech giants over next-generation earbuds and headphones. Apple's new product launches will begin to roll out on September ninth with added product announcements to follow before Christmas.


In the end, will Intel's newly advanced biometric enabled earphone products coming to market later this fall go unchallenged? While only time will tell, the two giants appear to be on the same track for delivering health related products that could see these two tech giants actually go face-to-face and toe-to-toe in an epic battle for consumer dollars. Who will win? Well, there's no secret here. My money is on Apple. How about you?


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