012. The Art of Tech #2 – The Dash (Kickstarter Edition)

First impressions are very important, so you can imagine not only my awestruck look, but also my gloriously overjoyed anticipation when in early 2014 a Kickstarter campaign was featuring some new wireless earphones. Completely wireless. No wires. For reals.

 

Not only was the Bluetooth “headset” small, compact, and sleek; but also tracks heart rate, swim activity, bike activity, running activity, and allows for handsfree phone calls, streaming music from your mobile device OR will work standalone with the 4GB of attached storage. Wow.

 

So, after many months of promises from Bragi about delivery (and several delays mostly revolving around waterproofing), I got my shipping confirmation last week. The unveiling of the box was a feeling I’ve gotten one other time in my life: completing a multi-year install of a water show in California. Absolute beauty and completion.

 

Now, the first think Nickolaj suggested doing upon receiving the Dash is a good ol’ fashioned firmware update…this is a multi-step process that begins with charging the “dock/case/portable charger.” This step will take two hours to complete. Once you do that, you can begin the three to four hour firmware update. This is so arduous the website recommends doing it overnight. All things being completed now, it took me one hour and fifty-one minutes to do the firmware update…the first time. I ended up having to do it a second time as I was not able to get the left Dash to connect or even to recognize input.  Honestly, at this point, I think that two hours isn’t long enough to do an initial charge, but that will go reported to the Bragi team in an e-mail that I’m sure they’ll not read for months at this point.

 

The system works as such that the right Dash operate all music and phone controls with the capacitive touch on the surface of the unit and the left operates all health and fitness tracking. The controls will take some getting used to as there are certainly functions that can only be done by operating the Dash and not through the app. I personally think that this restriction on beginning workouts on the Dash instead of the app won’t last long. It seems like a small correction that can be made…with a “small” firmware update.

 

This morning, I fiddled with the charging/resetting routine a couple of times and FINALLY got the right AND left Dash to connect to each other as well as to the phone. The cleanest working features are music streaming playback and the audio transparency. Phone call quality leaves a little to be desired, but works (better than my car handsfree according to my wife) and the health tracking control is sort of complicated to get going when you’re a noob to this system. It lacks just a little finesse on the intuition scale of approachability. In contrast to the fitness functions, answering or declining a call is pretty awesome…just nod your head like you would if you were telling a person that “yes, I will take that call” or “no, I won’t.” Yep, just nod your head….and it looks like there will be more gestures going forward from the sounds of things in the Kickstarter updates.

 

Being that this unit has been in my possession for less than 24 hours and I have yet to do an actual workout with it (tomorrow I’m riding a bike somewhere between 13-26 miles), I can’t speak much to the battery life, but it likely will last the 3/5/17 hours in particular function they say it will. The quality of the other features such as music, audio transparency, and noise cancelling are average to better than average for quality.

 

The functionality has been pretty hit or miss (especially with the Left Dash) and I’m attempting to correct whatever issues I’ve been having by troubleshooting myself and with the Bragi team. I will post more updates about it as I use the device more.

 

The Dash retails for $299USD and is easily worth that much money especially since all the moving parts are there already, all they have to do is push a firmware/app-ware update to the units to make more features work. I can’t suggest more that you all get in line and pre-order one now. They’re shipping next month.

 

[kyle]

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