Gimme a Beat: Intel, 50 Cent Pair Up on Heart-Rate Headphones

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson attends an autograph signing event at SMS Audio.
Marcel Thomas | FilmMagic | Getty Images
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson attends an autograph signing event at SMS Audio.

Chipmaker Intel and SMS Audio, the consumer electronics company founded by 50 Cent, are partnering to launch a pair of heart-rate-measuring headphones.

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Here I want to say something clever about 50 Cent's apparent expertise in biometrics and/or whether the Intel-SMS partnership is more or less significant than Dr. Dre getting a spot in Apple's employee directory, but I'm coming up short, so I'll just tell you about the earphones.

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The SMS Audio BioSport In-Ear headphones have an optical light sensor in the earbuds that, combined with other sensors, infer the wearer's heart rate during both intense exercise sessions and regular, continuous wear.

Unlike LG's heart-rate monitoring earphones, the Intel-SMS earphones pull power from your smartphone's audio jack, which means there's no additional charging required. And rather than requiring the user to go through a proprietary app, these earphones integrate directly with popular app RunKeeper. The companies say there are likely more app integrations coming.

The BioSport In-Ear headphones will launch sometime in the last quarter of the year. Pricing has not been announced.

For SMS Audio, the partnership with tech giant Intel and the new product are part of an effort to gain traction in a crowded headphone market. NPD analyst Ben Arnold has said that, while the premium headphone market has grown 16 percent over the past year, SMS Audio's dollar share has shrunk to less than one percent. The company's headphones, which range in price from $70 to more than $200, have gotten mixed reviews.

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For Intel, it's another step in the wearables market. At the International CES earlier this year, Intel revealed a variety of small-device prototypes, seemingly intent not to miss the early wearable wave the way it did with mobile. At our Code conference in May, Intelshowed off a "smart" shirt, embedded with sensors and conductive fibers, that it expects could ship sometime next year.

And just yesterday, the company announced it had teamed up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to launch wearable devices that would monitor and gather data around Parkinson's disease. That data will be shared with researchers, who will study the effects of Parkinson's medications on motor skills.

By Lauren Goode, Re/

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