Top News

Glow: The First Smart Headphones with Laser Light



Headphones are always getting smarter, and now they're getting brighter, too.

A new set of earbuds called Glow ($127) lets you sync with your smartphone and track your heart rate, with one illuminating differentiator: wires that glow with the light from a laser. The headphones pulse to the beat of your heart and music.

Glow, which is already picking up major traction on crowdsourcing site Kickstarter, shines for over eight hours on a charge and comes in red, green or blue.

The project has already reached its $100,000 goal, meaning early backers will receive their illuminating earpieces as early as July, if the company is able to manufacture them in time. The team says it needs to hit higher goals on Kickstarter to ensure features like the heart rate monitor.

"Music is already a very expressive medium, so having light synchronize with the music makes the experience that much better," a company spokesperson says in Glow's promotional video.

The earphones use Fibrance, a glass optical fiber from Corning that allows thin and colorful wires to be flexible (much more so than stiff, copper-based electroluminescent wires). It can wrap around objects and continue to glow.

Meanwhile, there would be a tiny sensor inside the earbud that uses a pulse oximeter to estimateyour heart rate. Although your heartbeat might not completely sync up with the wire, the technology should allow the light to respond to the rises and falls of your heart rate.


The headphones are designed to work with Android devices, so that in itself is a big perk — most audio accessories are created with iOS in mind and aren't tailored for Android. If the project's popularity continues (and it reaches its "stretch" goal on Kickstarter), the company will look into launching an iOS version, but for now it's focused on building out features for Android.


A small controller clips to your outerwear and works alongside your smartphone — it reads incoming texts to you (and sends replies by using your voice), takes pictures when you press the center button and lets you take calls and use apps (like Pandora and Spotify) without ever unlocking your phone. You can also trigger Google Now and use voice actions to control your phone. Five buttons help control your music, more than on many headphones.

Although the Glow illuminates for over eight hours (and can be charged in full via micro-USB in 30 minutes), the headphones still let you listen to music if the battery runs out. Glow promises high sound quality, too: The company worked with Knowles, which makes audio parts for various manufacturers including Sennheiser, to develop the sound.


It might be too soon to tell whether the glowing light and other functionality is more of a gimmick than practical, but it's certainly exciting for the people who have already pledged more than $150,000.