The Smart Beanie from Bluefingers Labs UK is the perfect example of where wearable tech is headed: simple, easy-to-use and obvious. What do we mean by obvious? Because the moment we saw them incorporating a Bluetooth headset into a beanie it felt like a no-brainer. Of course, that’s exactly how it should be done! Here is wireless wearable tech that is practical, good looking, and something that people will want to wear.
Using a beanie for this is very smart too. After a baseball cap, the beanie is probably the second most popular style of hat in the world. However, most hats don’t typically cover the ears and figuring out how to get audio from the hat to the ears poses a problem. But a beanie naturally covers the ears. This means that the choices for delivering audio can range anywhere from a connected ear bud to providing a fuller-sized headphone experience, as in the case of the Smart Beanie. Even though originally intended for cold weather use, many people wear beanies nearly year round. This may have as much to do with the beanies amazing hair management qualities as it does for keeping your noggin warm, making it as popular with women as with men.
So, how does it stack up to other headsets and how does the Smart Beanie perform in the real world. Well, if this video of random people’s impressions taken on the streets of Manchester, England is any example, then it seems like it works just fine:
The controls of the Smart Beanie are handily located right on the side of the hat. This is also where the USB cable plugs in for fast charging. There is an LED light that let’s you know when the charging is complete.
We didn’t find a lot of the technical specs concerning the electronics when we visited the Smart Beanie website, so we thought we’d get in touch with them for details. Nicholas of Bluefingers got back in touch with us almost immediately and gave us some of the particulars:
- Bluetooth V3.0 +EDR
- 10M/33′ range
- 3.7V Li-ion Battery provides 60 Hours Standby and 6 Hours Play/Talk
- Charges in 1.5 Hours using USB
- A2DP for true stereo sound
- Noise cancelling circuitry using a multi-mic setup
- Easy removal and replacement of electronics for easy washing
Bluefingers is also looking towards the future with the Smart Beanie. They are considering using AptX or something similar to even further improve audio quality. They are also working on a codec that will allow the wearer to change tracks with a wiggle of their head. This could be a great thing depending on what motion of the head is required. Bluefingers will have to be careful so that these head movements don’t make the wearer look like a crazy person or that it doesn’t accidentally change tracks during some activities, like exercising.
We were told that there are more products on the way, including a hooded sweatshirt with a built-in Bluetooth headset. Since the hoodie is unofficially the “suit and tie” of tech firms everywhere, this might prove equally popular.
The Smart Beanie is available in the UK and the EU, but they do hope to be landing Stateside soon. We hope so, too! So many tech companies are striving to make wearable tech a reality, but many of them overshoot and come up with solutions that are overcomplicated. This is a great idea that makes wearable tech a part of now and not the future. We’ll keep you posted on any updates.