These Smart Headphones Pull Music From the Cloud
Music on the 'phones, not your phone
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Imagine this: a set of headphones that stores your music offline, learns and adapts to your personal preferences, and automatically grabs new songs from the cloud while it's being charged. There's no need for a separate media player, or even an internet connection. Oh! And it's touch-controlled. Sound like something from the future? Well it isn't, because that's pretty much what the Aivvy Q headphones do, and they're set to launch this year.
It's understandable if you're skeptical. We were too, so we decided to check them out at this year's South by Southwest. The team at Aivvy had a working model for us to play around with, and we have to admit, these things are stacked with enough features to impress even the most cynical music nerds and audiophiles.
The Aivvy Q headphones are constructed from aluminum, plastic, and leather and come in either black, brown, or white. On the right earcup are touch controls and a dial wheel. With the touch controls you can either tap to bookmark a song or swipe left or right to rewind or skip songs respectively. The dial wheel can also be used to switch between customized music channels. It's surprisingly—almost suspiciously—responsive.
These futuristic headphones also have a built-in, independent music player, and will instantly start playing music when you put them on. (They'll also pause your music when you take them off.) The companion mobile app can be used to check what song is playing and to set your music channels. Of course, you can also use the Aivvy Q's as a standard pair of headphones—but how boring.
Really, though, perhaps the most impressive feature has nothing to do with the listening experience. While the Aivvy Q headphones are charging, they update and curate your cache of music to give you more songs that better match your tastes. The selection is based on what you've skipped or bookmarked, or what channels you've switched from. Think of it as Pandora built into a pair of headphones—and available offline.
The X-factor, of course, is pricing for the cloud streaming service. Aivvy hasn't released that info yet, but says on its Kickstarter page that they're "dedicated" to keeping the cost much lower than other streaming services currently available. The team has also expressed interest in eventually integrating with the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Beats, and Google Play.
Clearly, Aivvy has its work cut out. The company is small and its ambitions large. That's why they've turned to the public—specifically, Kickstarter—to bring these headphones to market. While it only took 26 hours to reach its funding goal of $125,000, Aivvy has much more to do. The company has pledged to allocate its extra funds to the development of new headphone features.
For example, at $150K (which has already been met), Aivvy plans to include the ability to upload music libraries to the headphones via USB cable; this will help the headphones better learn your music preferences. At $300K, Aivvy wants to introduce a sharing function that will allow you to swap songs with other Aivvy Q owners, or connect to a portable speaker with an audio cable. You can see a whole audio ecosystem beginning to emerge.
The Aivvy Q's are currently available on Kickstarter for a minimum pledge of $249. That includes a laser engraving and a free year of the streaming music service. If those spots fill up, you'll have to shell out $299 for the same package, without the laser engraving. The campaign ends April 23.
Remember, though, this is Kickstarter. Shopping on this site is not like shopping at Amazon or Best Buy. You're backing an idea first and foremost, and while we've gone hands-on with the Aivvy Q headphones, products from Kickstarter are infamous for running into production problems and potentially never coming to fruition. If Aivvy can deliver, the Aivvy Q's are definitely going to upset the market, and you can be sure other headphone manufacturers will notice.
If all goes according to plan, the first batch of headphones will ship this fall.