Though it may not be the most obvious place to get an accurate reading of your heart rate, your inner ear, with its network of tiny blood vessels, is actually one of the best places in your body (aside from your derrière, surprisingly) to check how well your heart is pumping. Jabra's Sport Pulse Wireless earphones are the first buds to capitalise on this little-known fact, being the first fitness-focussed buds to have a built-in, in-ear heart rate monitor.
Made with a carbon-fibre casing, the water-and-sweat-proofed buds have been tested against hospital ECG machines, and have proved accurate to within 99.2 per cent compared to a medical electrocardiogram. They manage this impressive feat using a tiny optomechanical sensor in each bud, shining light at the skin of your inner ear and measuring how it scatters.
The earphones pair up with the Jabra Sport Life app (Android and iOS-compatible only at the moment) to make the most of this extra-accurate data that's been pooled. As well as offering measurable fitness goals (the usual calorie, time and distance stats) and tying in with leading running apps and communities, it'll also let you take Orthostatic heart rate tests (helping you to check whether or not you're overtraining) and test your V02 Max level (a crucial, pro-level fitness monitoring check that measures oxygen consumption while exercising to your limits, a test that can be pricey if booked in privately with a clinician).
And, of course, the wireless and rechargeable earphones play music too. As well as pulling in tracks over Bluetooth stored locally on your smartphone, the Sport Life app can also pull in audio from cached YouTube videos. Coaching tips based on your performance are then barked in over the music at key intervals that you can set, with the buds themselves featuring Dolby Digital enhancements alongside an in-app equaliser to tune the tone to your liking.
Launching in October, the Jabra Pulse Sport Pulse Wireless earphones will cost £199. That's not exactly cheap, but given the accuracy they offer and the kinds of metrics they let you monitor, enthusiast runners will find them very attractive.