It's a little strange hearing Bragi CEO Nikolaj Hviid refer to humans in terms of resolution. The more connected we are with sensors and computers, the higher our resolution. Right now we're pixellated, fuzzy and out of focus; Bragi wants us sharp, crisp – and it has a plan to get us there.
The hearable company has always said its goal is to put a computer in our ear, even if it deviated from that path with the launch of the stripped-back Bragi Headphone. But it's just taken a big leap forward again with the new Dash Pro, a smarter upgrade on the original Bragi Dash that also comes with a custom-fitted option built by hearing aid giant Starkey. The Dash Pro packs in more features this time around, such as real-time translation via iTranslate Pro, automatic activity detection, and something called the '4D menu', which is essentially an invisible interface you can navigate with head movements and more of those cheek taps when you don't have a free hand.
Oh, and Bragi says the battery now lasts five hours – hooray.
Translation is definitely the top-line act, and Bragi is already rolling this out to the first Dash headphones via a software update. While it leans on the iTranslate app to work, the feature will allow for face-to-face, real-time translating, something other companies such as Pilot have promised for this year but have yet to deliver on.
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As great as all this sounds, it's the ostensibly less interesting background stuff that's laying a foundation for something much more compelling. For the first time, the Dash Pro earphones form a neural network which allows them to share processing power and, thanks to an integration with IBM's Watson, help the Dash to become smarter. That starts with detecting how you move, automatically tracking your workouts, and learning your habits over time. "You and I move differently, so the device has to learn how to track you," says Hviid. "The more you use it, the more precise it gets."
Where Bragi plans to go next is even more interesting: it wants to build a mesh network that will go beyond the ears and onto our eyes, legs and just about everywhere else, on and off the body. It's laying the foundations now, but later this year Hviid says Bragi will announce something called the Patch, a small wearable, no bigger than an inch in length, that can be attached to clothes, body parts and – well – anything.
"It has the mesh ability," says Hviid, "and it has some sensors inside so you can add them to your sleeve, your shoe, your door, your desk. You can use these for different things. The more pieces you get, the more you'll understand of you." This is what he means by human resolution.
Bragi has a pair of augmented reality glasses in the works too, called Slim Glasses. Design is the main thing curbing our enthusiasm for AR glasses right now, but that wouldn't be a problem if the brain of the gadget lay on another part of the body. "The Dash adds the slim glasses into the body network and it shows the glasses what to show, so the glasses stay very slim," explains Hviid.
"Right now there's billions being spent on goggles, but the goggles will turn to glasses and the glasses will turn into contacts, and contacts don't have processing power, so it needs to be somewhere else. And that's what we're focusing on."
So, does he think this will end up killing the smartphone altogether?
"I know it will."