Price (RRP): $299
Measuring your heart rate is a vitally important part of modern exercise management, but how do you do that? Some devices shine a light through the skin of your wrist and sense things that way. That can be iffy. The most reliable is with a chest strap monitor. But that’s not necessarily comfortable, let alone sightly.
The BioConnected HR+ Biosensing Sports Earphones do the job by measuring your pulse in your ears. Oh, and they play music as well.
BioConnected is an Australian tech startup. It says that the HR+ earphones are “the world’s first biosensing earphones that measure both heart rate and heart rate variability”. Apparently heart rate variability is a good indicator of stress. Combining that heart monitoring capability with data provided by your smart phone can make for a full fitness monitoring solution.
Plus the earphones can give you spoken prompts, telling you stuff you need to know without you having to look at the phone.
Speaking of which, you’re probably going to get the most from the HR+ if you use the BioConnected App. Obviously it works most effectively with them. And at this stage that’s iOS only.
But the heart rate data is compatible with a range of third party apps on both iOS and Android, so you can use it with them. I concentrated on iOS (using an iPad Mini 4 as the platform, not having an iPhone available).
Of course, they connect to your device via Bluetooth. They incorporate a “Clinical-Grade heart rate monitor” in the right earpiece. The two earpieces are joined by around 600mm of cable, with a three button control pod not far from the right hand earpiece. It has a microphone for hands free calls and interaction with Siri.
The control pod is lighter than usual because the two 60mAh batteries are, I think, in the earpieces themselves. A clamp on the cable allows it to be shortened so as to sit better against one’s neck. The whole thing weighs just 17 grams.
Within each earpiece is an 8.6mm driver. The batteries are rated to last seven hours and the earphones are IPX5 “water and sweat resistant”. They have a lifetime guarantee. Charging time is two hours.
Three sizes of silicon tips are provided for them, along with three different sizes of fins to sit in the whorls and grooves of one’s ears, holding them steady. The fins aren’t optional unless you commit surgery on them. They are part of silicon covers which help protect the earphones from your sweat. The right hand one actually covers the Micro-B USB port used for charging. To charge you pull back a fair chunk of the silicon sheath. It sounds ungainly, but it works and is no worse than any other protective arrangement for Micro-B USB ports, and better than most.
When I paired the HR+ with the iPad, it appeared as two devices. One was “BioConnected HR+” – that was the audio device – while the other was called “Heart Rate”. They are quite separate, although in practice they work as one.
Since I’d already installed the free BioConnected app, there was little setup. The App identified the earphones pretty much straight away, and then took me through a profile setup. It was interested mostly in my sex, weight, height and age. The stuff, in other words, any health-related app wants to know about.
The standard screen shows your heartrate. This seems to take a few minutes to settle down. When I plugged the earphones in again a moment ago, as I’m now writing, it showed my current heart rate as a slightly alarming 136. My Fitbit Ionic said 62. I measured my pulse the old fashioned way and got 60-64. But while I was doing that, the Bioconnected app indicator fell back down to 61.