The Very Mixed Reality of Bragi’s Dash Wireless Headphones

When a tiny little pin broke off of my Bragi Dash’s charger, rendering it useless, I knew it was time to bring my review of the device to its conclusion.

I bought the Dash back in March for $299. It’s a pair of wireless headphones, similar to Apple’s (AAPL) AirPods, that promise to be so much more. Lots of info is available on Bragi’s Web site.

I first became intrigued with them when I saw a presentation by Bragi, the Munich-based startup that created the Dash, back in February at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

Darko Dragicevic, Bragi’s executive Vice President for partners and solutions, spoke during a panel session about Bragi’s6 vision for a future for what are called “hearables,” things that are “smart,” connected devices that go in your ear.

The Dash doesn’t just play music. By tilting your head a certain way, you can control gestures, such as whole menus of commands. And the sensors in the Dash can get information about your heart rate and your fitness stats during a workout based on what they detect in your ear. Some argue such measurements are even more reliable than what smartwatches glean from your wrist.

Some fascinating technology

One of the most interesting aspects of the Dash has nothing to do with Bragi. The ear buds incorporate a technology from chip maker NXP Semiconductors (NXPI) called “near-field magnetic induction.”

Once the sound travels from your phone to the ear pod on the right side, it needs to get from there to the other pod on the other side of your head. One approach is wireless between the two buds, which is what Apple’s AirPods do.

NXP’s induction instead uses magnetic coils in each ear pod that couple like two transformers to send the signal through the bone of your skull. The technology has been developed by NXP for years in the hearing aid market. NXP tells me there’s now a dozen or more headset makers developing wireless ear pods using its technology….

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