Soundbrenner made waves a couple years ago with the Pulse, a wearable metronome that used vibrations to help musicians jam. Now, a few years and 60,000 units later, it's back with a more advanced version.
The Soundbrenner Core, available on Kickstarter now for $159, pairs the original's metronome feature with a magnetic tuner, a decibel meter and a display so that it can actually be a full-on smartwatch.
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It comes in two versions: a regular edition with five accessories (silicone watch strap, charging cable, ear plugs, magnetic contact piece for tuning and body strap); and a Steel edition with seven accessories – the regular five, plus a leather watch strap and a carrying pouch.
The new twist tuner can be attached to your instrument via magnets, and it'll listen as you tune to help you via visuals on its display, so you can get your sound just right. The decibel meter will keep track of the volume of what you're listening to and will warn you when it gets too loud, letting you pop in those ear plugs.
As for the smartwatch bit, you're just going to get the basics – like notifications, alarms and, you know, the time. But make no mistake, the Core is all about the music, man, and the smartwatch bit is just there so you feel more comfortable wearing it all day long. You can do that easily, too, as it sports three days of battery life. There's also a rhythm coach that will help you get better at playing your instrument.
The Core has a lot in common with its predecessor, the Pulse. It still acts as a metronome that lets you tap the beat into the watch. There's also still multi-link capability so you can sync you and your band's devices together.
Florian Simmendinger, the CEO of Soundbrenner, tells Wareable that the Core is the device the company wanted to make. However, it realised that it needed to pace itself, so it focused in on a couple of features for the Pulse.
"We always had a bigger vision in mind but we intentionally limited the scope," he says. "I think a lot of crowdfunding campaigns make the mistake of doing too much too fast and we got really good advice to not do that."
Instead, the Soundbrenner team had to use intuition when it was making the Pulse. For the Core, it had more funding, more experience and more feedback. It sold 60,000 units of the Pulse, and it received 10,000 emails with feedback. All of which the company read to derive features for the Core, Simmendinger says.
While the Core is aimed purely at musicians, it's not just for the advanced pupils. It's aimed at everyone from amateurs and beginners to professionals, though Simmendinger admits that its products – thus far – have appealed more to pros. He argues that beginners tend to learn from their teachers and mentors about what devices and tech to use, so that will likely change over time as more people get their hands on Soundbrenner wearables.
Even though Soundbrenner has been through the crowdfunding game before, Simmendinger says the Core is 1000% more work than the Pulse. A lot of that is because of how much more ambitious it's being with the Core. Another part of that is having more resources to do more.
The company has been through 20 prototypes, and has now expanded to have an industrial designer in Japan, electrical engineers in China, mechanical designers and a group of fans that can help it meet its Kickstarter funding goals easier. With 15 days to go, the Core has garnered $421,000, which is far more than its $50,000 goal. It's also almost double what the Pulse got on IndieGoGo a couple of years ago.
All that money is going directly back into the Core, too. It'll go toward tooling, firmware and the mobile app, acquiring components and assembling them. There won't be much left over as Simmendinger says manufacturing a product takes a lot of money.
If you're a musician, this seems like a no-brainer. It's got all the tools you want, but in a small package. Even better, Soundbrenner has been through this song and dance before, and it feels like one of the few companies that understands how crowdfunding works and how to make it work so everyone – from manufacturers to users – is happy.