Yesterday Gizmodo leaked news of the upcoming BioSport In-Ear headphones or "biometric earbuds" from SMS Audio and Intel. This product will be based on tech that Intel demoed in January. Apparently the day after the demo SMS Audio contacted Intel and they've been working together ever since. Given SMS Audio's rather low profile and 50 Cent's long musical slump, it's a surprising combination. This deal predates Apple's acquisition of Beats so one has to assume it was initially more about getting into the wearable tech market than scrambling for a hip hop audio brand. It seems to be surprising enough that even tech bloggers can't come up with jokes about it.
Hip hop and hip hop-related business have had a long, curious history since the genre was created. This has been especially confusing to many white people, from my observations over the years since I first heard "Rapper's Delight," and has led to a situation in which white-dominated corporate PR departments still think gawky white people trying to rap is funny. Or that even saying hip hop or rap music is funny.
But after 35 years or so of successful progress for the last new major genre of music to be birthed in the world, and the most recent by African-Americans who have dominated new music genre creation in the U.S., things are finally changing:
"Here I want to say something clever about 50 Centâs apparent expertise in biometrics and/or whether the Intel-SMS partnership is more or less significant than Dr. Dre getting a spot in Appleâs employee directory, but Iâm coming up short, so Iâll just tell you about the earphones."
So what's the news she just can't joke about?
"Chipmaker Intel and SMS Audio, the consumer electronics company founded by 50 Cent, are partnering to launch a pair of heart-rate-measuring headphones."
Nothing funny there. But 50 Cent's company SMS Audio hasn't done so well:
"NPD analyst Ben Arnold has said that, while the premium headphone market has grown 16 percent over the past year, SMS Audioâs dollar share has shrunk to less than one percent. The companyâs headphones, which range in price from $70 to more than $200, have gotten mixed reviews."
Maybe the real reason she can't joke is that Apple bought Beats and now white people are being reminded of a genre that they hoped EDM was going to push out of the way.
And maybe the real star here is Intel engineer Indira Negi who developed key technology for the earbuds to meet her own needs as a runner.
There's more on Indira Negi's story here from January.
Gizmodo shares their tale of discovery.
And TechCrunch has gathered some more product details but at this point we're waiting for the actual announcement, since that will be the actual news, and what they're actually planning to do.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) recently launched DanceLand. Send news about music tech startups and services, DIY music biz and music marketing to: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.