It seems like every new fitness band on the market has a built-in heart-rate sensor, but now headphone companies are baking sensors into their devices, too. The ear has become a popular place to put a sensor, because properly fitting earphones will stay put and presumably measure your heart rate more accurately than a wrist-worn sensor prone to moving around during exercise. That’s why companies like Samsung, JBL, Jabra, and Bose are shipping biosensing Bluetooth earphones designed for workouts.
Wearable technology company LifeBeam raked in $1.7 million on Kickstarter last summer to produce a new kind of heart rate-tracking headphones called Vi. And while Vi has an optical heart rate sensor built in, that’s not really its selling point. What sets these headphones apart is Vi herself, a voice coach rooted in artificial intelligence that guides you through your workouts. There are several fitness apps with voice-coaching that aren’t tied to a specific pair of headphones, but those trainers sound like robots. Vi actually sounds like a person you’d want to talk to—and you can.