Sony's showing off a new sports and training headset prototype, but it is basically the waterproof, head-mounted Walkman the company's been trying to sell for a few years. Now it's crammed with a heart rate monitor, GPS radio, and an accelerometer for counting your steps.
The "B" in Sony Smart B-Trainer stands for "beat" and that's hints at two things: first of all, it's meant to stand for heartbeat, which the trainer measures from a sensor behind your right ear. It also stands for "beat" as in "beats per second". You know, as in music. Cryptic stuff.
And believe it or not those two beats are a pretty good summation of what this is supposed to do. Yes, the trainer tracks you the way many other wearables do. It syncs with your phone giving you information about how far you ran, how many calories you burned, and what your heart rate was throughout the exercise.
But it's not just a fitness tracker. Like the aforementioned headband Walkman I alluded to above, the Smart B-Trainer has built in storage and controls so you can load on music as well as a fitness plan. So even when running without your phone, the trainer can play music to pump you up or chill you out so that you're at the right heart rate.
The B-Trainer also gives you aural notifications about what kind of progress you've made on your workout as well as instructions like "Hey dude, chill out, aight? You are gonna burn out!!!" Well not those instructions exactly. They really sound more robotic and boring than that, more like a creepy computer is whispering in your ear.
Right now, we're hearing that Sony wants to actually turn the Smart B-Trainer into a product this year — and possibly in the early part of this year. No word on what it will cost.
I always like Sony's head-mounted waterproof Walkman, but it always seemed a little clunky for what it was. Maybe all of this added functionality will finally turn that design into a keeper.