While Google Glass, fitness trackers and smartwatches get tons of press these days, there’s another kind of wearable device worth your notice: smart earbuds.
At CES, Intel unveiled “Jarvis,” a wireless headset that listens to your surroundings to know the best time to pipe in reminders, messages, and recommendations. Jarvis is not really a new product, but a “reference design” to encourage others to build similar headphones using Intel’s tech.
But we see Jarvis as part of a bigger trend. For instance, there’s the earbuds that are part of the new-and-improved Google Glass. The second generation of Glass that Google’s been giving to its “Explorers” include a set of earbuds to improve audio notifications and to integrate Google Play Music.
With predictive technology like Google Now becoming more aware of things like your location, your work calendar, and your travel plans, having updates piped into your ear when no one else is talking seems like a logical next step.
The biggest problem with smart earbuds seems to be aesthetic appeal — or lack thereof. People have been wearing wireless Bluetooth headsets for years, but there’s a stigma against their ostentatious-ness.
They’re bulky, they look like something you wear at an office desk, and everyone has been annoyed by that guy standing in line at the grocery store, talking just a bit too loud into his microphone to make sure he’s heard.
With that said, it’s not hard to envision a future where the earbuds we wear all the time all work like Jarvis: discretely letting you know about important updates throughout the day, but only when it’s a good time for you.
People are already used to wearing their headphones to listen to music, be alerted of new messages, to make phone calls. Having the earbuds do more for you, without requiring you to power up a smartphone or mess with the display on a watch, makes a lot sense.
We’ll have to wait an see if any Intel partners steps up to design their own version of Jarvis in cooperation with the company. We hope so, as Jarvis is already an improvement over traditional Bluetooth headsets.
Here’s a closer look at it: