Tech experts give the heads up on ‘hearables’

FORT MYERS, Fla. — You may have heard of “wearables” — gadgets worn to track health and fitness.

But in 2017, new devices called “hearables” may replace “wearables,” as these new gadgets can be used for both safety and convenience.

Nearly one-third of drivers admitted to driving drowsy at some point, a high risk in particular for professional truck drivers.

Now, a device called the co-pilot can put a “bug in the ear” of truckers if they’re not driving safely.

“There’s about 3.5 million truck drivers who experience nearly a half-million crashes a year,” said Craig Campbell of Maven Machines. “A large part of these are what are called ‘preventable incidents.’”

The gadget will talk you back on track, Campbell said.

“There’s a headset with Fitbit-like sensors that track very accurately a driver’s motion in 3-D space, so we know when a driver’s making mirror checks,” he said.

The earpiece is connected to a smartphone app. When mirror check activity decreases, a warning goes off.

The product is targeted at truckers, but a smaller version is in the works for regular drivers.

“We’ve only yet scratched the surface of what this category can represent,” said Dr. Shawn DuBravac of the Consumer Technology Association.

Some future hearables could make travel easier.

“If I were on vacation in Italy, even though I don’t speak Italian, I might be able to understand the conversation simply because the earpiece I am wearing has real-time translation services built in,” DuBravac said.

Hearable sales are expected to explode as they take consumers beyond today’s wearables, DuBravac said. Some wearables count your steps while you’re running, but hearables could motivate you to make that count go up.

“If you’re running, you might be able to get in-ear coaching,” DuBravac said.

Some hearables will offer certified hearing protection so high-decibel sounds don’t damage users’ ears.

Reporter:Lindsey Sablan
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Writer:Sabrina Lolo
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