There was a time when we would see businesspeople carry Bluetooth earpieces everywhere, but there hasn’t been a lot of change in that space, outside of size. Jawbone hopes to shift people to something new, however, with an earpiece that uses your muscles to cut out the noise.
Heading to stores towards the end of the month is Jawbone’s Era, the next generation of single-ear Bluetooth pieces from Jawbone, a company that spends its time looking to improve on the tech we use with speakers, single ear-piece communication devices, and a fitness band or two.
This time around, the technology is for your ear, with the Era, which has all the letters for “ear” in its name, and kind of gives itself away.
“With Era, we’ve taken what we’ve learned from more than a decade of research and development in design, engineering and audio, and used it to completely reinvent the earpiece for the wearable era, based on how people are living today,” said Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s Vice President of Product Management and Strategy.
“Many of us are also looking for a better way to use our phones for background music, podcasts and other content consumption without awkward solutions like one dangling earbud or bulky utility headsets. We designed Era to blend seamlessly into your life and make interacting with people and our smartphones even easier, all while making the technology nearly disappear.”
Aside for being smaller, the Era aims to make the microphone better than normal, with small micro-electro-mechanical microphones and specialised DSP processing to make the sound clearer as you walk and talk, while still delivering high definition sound over both music and voice.
Now this is still one ear piece, so don’t assume you’ll be listening to stereo across both ears, though it is expected that the audio quality will be good in the one ear.
But high audio quality is only one part of the package, and the Jawbone team has focused on cancelling the noise and making it easier for the person on the other end of the phone to hear you better, and this happens with software called “Noise Assassin 4.0” which helps to work out when you’re talking and hone in on those sounds specifically, but the technology is also reliant on a little rubber bump on the end of the ear piece.
This rubber bump is called the Jawbone Voice Activity Sensor or “VAS,” and it picks up on the movement of the muscles on your face. When your mouth is moving, chances are the cheek muscles are moving with it, and at that point the software can kick into gear, looking for the sound of your voice and killing everything else in between.
Beyond the cancellation of noise, you’ll find a button on the back of the Era to activate voice commands for iOS (Siri) and Android (Google Now), making it easier to control your phone without putting your hands anywhere near it.
A small charger is also provided as an option, and can be attached to a keyring to provide a few extra hours of charge when it’s not spending time on your ear.
Pricing for the Jawbone Era comes in at $179 with the charger, while a saving of thirty bucks ($149) will also get you the headset without the pocketable charger.