My most embarrassing day in the gym involved a dumbbell, a workout bench, and a stray earphone wire.
I was sitting on a bench doing dumbbell curls, facing the mirror, making aggressive faces to assert my gym-dominance (naturally) — when the edge of my dumbbell snagged my wire. Two things happened simultaneously: my phone was pulled off the bench and onto the floor, and I dropped the dumbbell directly onto my phone.
Fortunately, it was just a 10-pound weight, but still: the crisis could have been avoided with the latest trend in wearables, Bluetooth wireless earbuds. At CES, VOXX Advanced Solutions announced its partnership as the exclusive distributor of FreeWavz Smart Earphones, a set of wireless headphones with eye-catching features for both gym-goers and outdoor adventurers.
Here’s what you should know about FreeWavz, the Bluetooth headphones that could have preserved my gym-going dignity.
In Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds, Comfort Is King
“If they’re not comfortable, you’re not going to wear them,” said Tom Malone, President of VOXX Advanced Solutions. “These are extremely comfortable.”
As they should be. The smart earphones were designed by Dr. Eric Hensen — an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor — to custom-fit the contour of the ear. These earphones won’t slip out, and you won’t have to cram them into your ear canal like a savage. Instead, they’re made to move with you, lasting six to eight hours on a single charge.
Fitness trackers have to be more comfortable than other wearables by design. Bracelet-based devices like Fitbit can get in the way, particularly if you wear gloves while you work out, and clip-on devices are usually one-trick ponies that can only count your steps.
“People don’t just want steps anymore,” Malone said. “That is the lowest level which you can provide in fitness trackers. They want additional features.”
FreeWavz Smart Earphones, which will be branded under the 808 Audio Brand under the VOXX partnership, offer a range of features that rival high-end fitness wearables:
- Heart Rate and Oxygen Saturation Levels: Measured via a built-in pulse oximeter for real-time feedback during workouts
- Fitness Tracking: Calories burned, steps, current and average speed, distance traveled, and workout duration
- Bluetooth Connection:Stream music directly from your phone
- Environmental Listen-Through: Listen to music and approaching cars with built-in microphones
- Independent Volume Control: Separately set the volume and environmental listen-through levels for each earphone
- Sweat and Water-Resistant: Never worry about your earphones dying on a drizzly day
From Kickstarter To Major Partnership
FreeWavz launched on Kickstarter back in June 2014, ultimately raising $325,208 with 1,591 backers. While the VOXX partnership places the earphones under new branding, an update on Kickstarter states, “All pre-orders will move to Voxx. All Kickstarter backers who came in at an award level will be fulfilled by Freewavz.”
The announcement caused concern among some backers. “The last Kickstarter project I backed that pulled this stunt was Ca7ch Motion Camera,” wrote one commenter. “After stringing their backers along for years, their assets were mysteriously ‘acquired’ by iOn Camera. Despite hundreds of requests from Ca7ch Motion's 1,600+ backers, we never got a single reply from either company on what happened to our quarter of a million dollars.”
However, Malone’s comments at CES suggest that backers are likely in the clear. The earphones will be available in the spring for $249, and Malone is bullish about the fitness sports tracker industry. “We want to be right in the middle of that [growth],” he said. “We’re very excited about this introduction.”