Elbee: Wireless in-ear headphones with smart features
Elbee: Wireless in-ear headphones with smart features
Enjoy high-quality sound and the possibility to control your smartphone and apps using custom voice commands and head movements.
Enjoy high-quality sound and the possibility to control your smartphone and apps using custom voice commands and head movements. Read more
About this project
You can control your smartphone and apps with the Elbee in any way you like, whether it be with a voice command, a head movement or a touch of a button.
"Elbee's wireless earbuds are more utilitarian than others." - The Verge
"Now you might be thinking, what so special about them? For starters they are tiny, and another reason to be excited is thanks to its smart features." - Ubergizmo
"[...] we have been following Elbee’s progress for a while now. In the space of wearables, hearables, in our opinion, offer the greatest proposition when it comes to convenience." - Fashnerd
The Elbee comes with a companion app that works with Android and iOS devices. It lets you connect to third party apps such as Google Maps (launching navigation home) or Nest (controlling your room temperature). New apps will be added over time and updated with the software via the companion app.
The companion app also lets you customize your voice and head commands. You can therefore create your very own shortcuts to your favorite apps and actions.
The companion app is also used for tweaking the sound to your personal preferences.
The companion app helps you locate the Elbee in case you lose one or both.
Lastly, we know how frustrating it can be to leave home without your headphones. As a result, we decided to offer you the possibility to request a notification whenever you leave home without your Elbee.
A developer's kit will be available, so that the Elbee can be integrated into any application. With this SDK, the possibilities are endless. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Play a boxing game using head movements
- Detect and notify you when you have bad posture
- Connect with wearables and get notifications for things like, how many steps you have taken during the day
- Real-time translation of foreign languages during a conversation
- And so much more...
For the past 1.5 years we have worked hard to create a small piece of technology that is beautiful in design and capable of controlling your smartphone seamlessly.
Together with our electronics team we have sourced the right components, keeping in mind optimal user experience and battery usage. We produced our prototypes with a local manufacturer to ensure quick iterations and shorter production cycles.
With our team of designers we have worked on several concepts and crafted multiple prototypes. We conducted focus groups to determine the best design and features for the Elbee. We have designed silicon earbuds using a patented technology that fits securely in your ear. The result is a product that is beautifully designed and comfortable to wear.
On the software side, we wanted to bring you the best possible user experience. We have developed high-precision algorithms for movement detection and we have partnered with one of the top speech recognition companies in the world. By using their technology, our software engineers have developed the voice algorithms of the Elbee.
With tested prototypes and a full bill of materials, we are now ready for production. Our team travelled to Shenzhen in China to source and to chose the right manufacturers for our PCB production, molding and final assembly.
The founders met during a tech conference 1.5 years ago. They are backed by a complementary team of engineers that is passionate about connected devices, wearables and home automation systems. They have also teamed up with PiliPili, an award-winning designer studio, and DVC, an electronics manufacturer. Altogether, the Elbee team is a mixture of people that have experience building products amongst other at Philips, Xerox and the European Space Institute.
We would also like to give a special thanks to everyone who has helped us along our journey: our family and friends, our investors, Juan Bosicard and Rodolphe d’Udekem from Impulse, Ronnie Raeymaekers from Indutec, RubyKub productions, ZenCar, ICAB Business & Technology Incubator and BetaCowork.
Our vision is to offer a new paradigm to how we communicate with our everyday connected devices and more generally the world around us. To make this vision come true, we need your help to bring the Elbee into mass production. The funds we will collect on Kickstarter will be used to finance tooling, components, launch of production, certifications and cost of distribution.
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Risks and challenges
In our upcoming production timeline, here are the risks and challenges we are facing.
On the hardware side, headphones that use bluetooth technology encounter challenges related to their antenna. As the Elbee is 100% wireless, we are also giving special attention to communication issues between left and right earpiece, making sure it is flawless between both of them.
On the manufacturing side, the process itself is always a challenge: problems in the molding, late arrival of components and other problems may occur. Our production team, led by Wen’s extensive 15 years of experience in new product introduction, has worked hard to find the right manufacturers and they will ensure a smooth production cycle.
But whatever the challenge, we promise to continue working hard to bring the Elbee to your doorstep and to always keep you and the community updated about our progress.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The movements are detected using a nine axis-accelerometer. High precision algorithms then translate these movements into concrete actions on your smartphone or your app.
We have worked hard to avoid accidental activations by offering the following two features:
1. You need to perform a specific trigger movement before you can actually begin controlling functions/actions with head movements. We chose a slight upward movement as the trigger because it is a gesture that used relatively rarely during the day otherwise.
2. The algorithms that transform your movements into actions are highly precise, developed by our team aerospace engineer (who usually does sophisticated algorithms for satellites and space missions).
That said, the Elbee is customizable and you have the option of turning the head movement detections on and off using the companion app.
No. Rest assured, you won’t have to do large, weird movements with your head. Julien, our resident aerospace engineer, developed precise algorithms so that you only need to make slight movements to control with the Elbee.
We partnered with one of the top speech recognition companies in the world for our voice technology. Using this technology, the Elbee can remain in an always-listening mode waiting for you to say “Ok Elbee,” translate your voice into software code and transform notifications into speech.
Our C-shaped silicon earbuds have a patented technology that ensures secure fit and comfort. To make sure the Elbee is comfortable, it comes with three different sizes of silicon earbuds.
Using the companion app, you can locate the last location of one or both headphones. You can also make the headphones emit a loud sound until you find them.
The Elbee integrates the best speaker technology currently available with a balanced armature receiver, providing great sound reproduction with full range response. The headphones incorporate an advanced noise cancelation algorithm and two dedicated microphones that provide crystal-clear sound in any circumstances;
At full usage you can expect more than three hours of battery life. The Elbee comes with a charging case that extends its battery life by providing three full charges to the headphones. In order to optimize the battery life, we chose the optimal components and included a proximity sensor that turns the Elbee off when not in use. Additionally, you can turn off features you aren’t using to conserve battery life.
This casing acts also as a charging unit. The size of the casing will be roughly 3.9"x1.6"x1.4". We will try our best to make the casing as small as possible.
Yes, you can use the right headphone alone or together with its mate.
Yes, you can use the Elbee with any device that has Bluetooth technology, as long as the its Bluetooth settings are open to external devices (which, for example, is not the case of PlayStation 4). However, you cannot connect and control smart devices directly without your smartphone. In the future, our mission is to enable direct communication with any smart device in your everyday life.
The Elbee is relatively small considering the amount of technology it contains: only 1.42 inches high and 1.14 inches wide. We designed the Elbee to perfectly embrace the natural form of the ear and we consciously chose to build on-ear headphones versus in-ear headphones for two reasons: First, with the Elbee, you can choose to use both earphones (stereo mode) or only one, similar to a more classical Bluetooth headset. With an in-ear design, the ear canal is too obstructed, causing you to hear your own voice when speaking like an echo. That problem is resolved using an on-ear design with C-shaped earbuds. We also wanted the Elbee to be comfortable to wear. After testing dozens of different earbuds, we decided on a C-shaped patented technology to ensure secure fit and silicon material for comfort.
No. You can access you phone assistant (Siri, Google Now, Cortana) using Elbee’s built-in voice command or by using a head command. In other words, Elbee is the assistant of your phone assistant. Accessing your phone assistant is just one of the numerous shortcuts you can perform with a voice command or head movement; other possible shortcuts include changing volume, skipping songs, turning on the light, etc. Most of these shortcuts cannot be accessed or done by a phone assistant. For requests like “what is the weather today?” you will have the choice to either use your phone assistant or directly perform the action with an Elbee shortcut.
What differentiates the Elbee are the smart features: they turn on and off automatically, you can control apps, you can locate the Elbee, and the Elbee is truly 100% handsfree as you can use voice commands and head movements to control the phone and its apps.
The Elbee is connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth and all the voice and movement technology is located inside the headphones. As such, you can use the Elbee with any device that has Bluetooth technology, as long as its Bluetooth settings are open to external devices (which, for example, is not the case of PlayStation 4). However, if you wish to customize your Elbee experience, add new third party apps and make software updates you need to download the native companion app. For the moment, this app will be available for Android and iPhone. We hope to provide a native version for Windows Phone rapidly so that we can provide the best user experience for the entire Elbee community.
For the moment, the voice commands are in English and Elbee responds to you in English. We will make more languages available overt time with software updates.
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