At CES this year Intel showed off a set of headphones that could measure your heartbeat. Now, it is taking them to rapper 50 Cent.
Let's talk about the product itself. It was introduced at this year's CES by Intel. It is an earphone that can measure your heartbeat. That's pretty cool, but it also doesn't require any special charging or extras because it takes all of its power from a regular 3.5mm headphone jack.
Then, you have SMS Audio, a company founded in 2011 by a Mr. Curtis Jackson, aka the rapper 50 Cent. It's, obviously enough, his answer to high-priced audio products being made under the Beats Audio brand which is partly owned by another rapper, Dr. Dre (not a real doctor, either).
Now, Intel has taken its heart monitor earphone reference design and turned it into an SMS Audio product called the BioSport In-Ear headphone. Sounds nice and dandy. Intel kind of looks like it is taking its technology and branding it appropriately, a la Beats. 50 Cent has some association with sports and is, some of the time, a boxing impresario. And just to be on the safe side, RunKeeper is going to be supporting the BioSport headphones straight out of the gate, and more is promised.
There are cool features in the headphones, too, maybe more than gimmicks. For example, the reference design that Intel touted could switch between music tracks to change the tempo of what you were listening to with the aim of encouraging you to change your heart rate. Faster if you were not working hard enough and slower if you needed to cool down.
Again, awesome stuff.
However, could it be that Intel bet on the wrong horse or, rather, the wrong cultural icon in this instance. According to music executive, Steve Stoute on HipHopDX.com, 50 Cent doesn't rate:
Okay, relevance may not be entirely fair here, because Mr. Jackson is purported to have a $300 million (£180 million) business empire. But, this seems like a move that an aging marketing department would come up with not knowing what is relevant or what is cool.
Great product, but it's a "meh" on the marketing positioning with this launch. It doesn't matter, though, because it has secured the headphones their 15 minutes of fame, but it may not be much more than that for now. That's unfortunate, because it is cool technology. Surely Beats would have been a better partner or did they pass on it for other reasons? Who knows.