Fitness trackers are absolutely everywhere in the wearable tech market, so when a new one emerges, it's actually a good sign for innovation. Why? Because in order to compete in such a saturated market, it means any new arrivals have to have a new competitive edge in order to expect to get anywhere. That means new features, new form factors, or a particularly exciting selling point. Kuai, currently in the midst of a successful Kickstarter campaign, is going to really show us what a competitive edge can look like.
Kuai is described as the “world's first multisport biometric headphones,” and though that may not sound like much, it's sufficient to have let the program break its Kickstarter barrier almost half-over with nine days left to go as of this writing. The headphones do of course play music—as pretty much every headphone system should—but it goes well beyond that into the kind of thing that professional athletes might even welcome. The Kuai have a built-in heart rate sensor, as well as an accelerometer, to help get a handle on the user's heart rate at any given time. Plus, that combination also allows for the successful tracking of distance traveled, cadence, overall speed and even calories burned in the process of exercise.
The Kuai headphones are actually waterproof—to a depth of around 9.84 feet—and boast a full eight gigabytes of onboard memory, so the headphones can be used for a variety of functions, not just working alone but also with several different apps on a smartphone. A small raised knob on the side functions as a control mechanism, almost like a joystick might, with different positions controlling different functions.
Out of the box, the Kuai start with a basic calibration test to find heart rate zones and each user's unique stride, as well as a VO2max test and a respiratory rate test. This not only illustrates the current level of fitness, but also allows the device to show improvement over time.
The price to get in on these is now a pledge of roughly $149, as several early-response tiers have already filled up. Given that the suggested retail price will be $249, though, this is still a great opportunity for users to get in on something close to the ground floor. Those who do will get access to a pretty impressive training system that serves several purposes at once, all from a platform of sufficient size to be worn on the ear. Indeed, this might well serve a prototype for others; if we can contain eight gigabytes of storage in a space this comparatively small, controllable via externally-mounted joystick, what's to stop us from putting out a phone like that? Or connecting such an apparatus to a visor for a display as well?
The Kuai are impressive enough for what's offered, but only make things better with the implications involved. These small but powerful fitness trackers could well open up the wearable technology field in ways most haven't even considered, forcing other fitness tracker makers to consider just how small these things can actually get. That's a development that's worth a bit of Kickstarter funding.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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