Intel and 50 Cent launch heart rate monitoring earphones

Optical sensors in the earphones send heart rate data to smartphone to track your activity level

by David Arthur   August 18, 2014  

Microprocessor manufacturer Intel and rapper 50 Cent’s headphone brand SMS Audio have collaborated to launch the SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear earphones that can monitor your heart rate and send the information to a compatible smartphone.

The earphones incorporate an optical sensor to monitor heart rate. They then send the data to an app like RunKeeper so you can make sure you’re training in the right zone. Intel and SMS Audio are developing their own app that will be able to change the playlist you’re listening to based on your heart rate. We imagine other apps like Strava will be adding compatibility at some stage.

The earphones use a 3.5mm jack and are powered by the phone, so they don’t need their own batteries. They are IPX4 certified so there's no problem if you get them covered in sweat when you’re training hard or cycling in the rain.

“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,” said Michael Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group at Intel.

The earphones eliminate the need for an extra device like a heart rate monitor device, which can often be uncomfortable.The optical sensor in the earphones works by shooting a beam of light into the ear lobe, and measures blood flow through capillaries, which expand and contract in time with the heartbeat. This enables a pulse reading to be measured.

With many more people using smartphones to track and monitor their cycling, the earphones mean you don’t need a dedicated cycling computer or watch if you want to be able to monitor your heart rate. There’s a lot of buzz around wearable tech in the technology and gadget market, and there are exciting implications for cyclists. A GPS enabled watch or band that can monitor your heart rate with an optical sensor and relay that data directly to the smartphone in your jersey pocket could be appealing to many.

"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."

They’re expected to be available in autumn, and we’ve no word on UK pricing yet. There’s more info at http://newsroom.intel.com/community/intel_newsroom/blog/2014/08/14/intel-and-sms-audio-to-supercharge-fitness-wearables

11 user comments

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In before the "cycling with earphones is dangerous" crowd.

dodgy's picture

posted by dodgy [122 posts]
18th August 2014 - 11:25

31 Likes

I wouldn't buy any head/earphones endorsed by a rapper. Their base/treble sense is skewed (IMO).

And IIRC optical HR sensors are weak compared to chest/electrical ones (at least on the wrist).

So a double no-no there then.

posted by truffy [311 posts]
18th August 2014 - 12:20

29 Likes

Like the idea of these, I wouldn't use them on the road but Turbo Trainer/Gym yes, I hate the chest straps so this is a good option.

posted by mikeprytherch [219 posts]
18th August 2014 - 12:58

16 Likes

Not into rap at all, but even less into chest straps and wrist watches, so ... good job, Mr 50 Cent! Applause

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
18th August 2014 - 14:14

15 Likes

That's a headline if I've ever seen one.

pedalpowerDC's picture

posted by pedalpowerDC [222 posts]
18th August 2014 - 15:33

22 Likes

Whilst it's true you can get better sound quality than SMS for sport, and I don't advocate using them on the road, in the gym these will probably be quite good.

A bit of a departure for Fiddy though, obviously realised he can't compete with Beats marketing might.

Not that Beats are very good, mind, unless you enjoy knowing you've paid twice as much as you should have for average cans.

posted by Joelsim [1385 posts]
18th August 2014 - 19:16

13 Likes

Cycling with headphones in isn't stupid, it's idiotic. Adult choice yes, stay safe and aware.

The headphones look rubbish also.

posted by Beaufort [160 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:41

7 Likes

Beaufort wrote:
Cycling with headphones in isn't stupid, it's idiotic. Adult choice yes, stay safe and aware.

The headphones look rubbish also.

Aesthetics aside, why is it 'idiotic'? When I cycle in an unknown city I frequently use Google Maps voice navigation with headphones, so I can pay attention to traffic/pedestrians and not be looking at the screen for guidance. Is that 'idiotic'? Should I be stopping at every intersection to consult a map, with all the inherent risks of multiple stop/start interactions with other road users?

Also it has been conclusively proven that cyclists maintain the ability to hear/be perceptive of traffic around them even when listening to music.

Q: do you always drive your car with all the windows rolled down and stereo off? As modern cars are effectively hermetic chambers where you cannot hear other vehicles at all, surely that lack of perception makes you 'idiotic'?

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

KiwiMike's picture

posted by KiwiMike [496 posts]
19th August 2014 - 8:55

8 Likes

what makes you think Strava will be adding support? They don't even support ANT+ heart rate monitors Sad

posted by anarchy [59 posts]
19th August 2014 - 15:05

1 Like

userfriendly wrote:
Not into rap at all, but even less into chest straps and wrist watches, so ... good job, Mr 50 Cent! Applause

It depends on whether the skin in the ear is similar in optical transmittance to the wrist or finger. Reading around, it appears that wrist straps are inaccurate because of skin thickness reducing light transmittance back to the sensor. Skin on the finger is thinner, therefore less impediment.

I don't know about you, but I can never get a snug fit with earphones, which may also impair their effectiveness (for me!). I guess some good tests and comparative reviews will sort out the questions.

Darker skin also impedes light transmittance. So either Mr Cent doesn't really care about measuring his HR, or he's just 50 cents short of a full dollar. Smile

posted by truffy [311 posts]
19th August 2014 - 16:02

1 Like

I find myself with Beaufort here. This is possibly one of the silliest products ever. What next, a blindfold for measuring your blink rate?? Your heart rate when you have been killed by a car you didn't hear is zero... Sad

middleagedmoaner's picture

posted by middleagedmoaner [4 posts]
21st August 2014 - 15:54

2 Likes