Bragi's Dash Pro earbuds pack improved audio and AI smarts

The company promises a heck of an upgrade for high-end users and applications.

Engadget / Cherlynn Low

If tapping your cheek to ask Siri a question isn't futuristic enough, Bragi's new "wireless ear computers" might impress you. The headphone maker has announced two new versions of its high-end Dash earbuds, the "Dash Pro" and the "Dash Pro tailored by Starkey" (a hearing-aid manufacturer). These wireless, in-ear devices will also be powered by a new operating system (OS). The Bragi OS3 will bring new features like real-time face-to-face translation, a hands-free gestural menu system, and AI built right into the earpieces. Existing Bragi Dash owners can also upgrade to BOS3 to get these tools.

The Dash Pro consumer model connects to Android, Apple or Windows devices with what Bragi claims is a "simple, one-touch" setup. The company also promises that this new iteration of its Dash series will have up to five hours of battery life per charge and a carrying case that carries up to five charges, similar to the case for AirPods.

What sets these headphones apart from offerings like Apple's, though, is how they're fitted with computing features, like the iTranslate real-time language translation, the hands-free menu systems and an integration with IBM's Watson AI, not to mention the built-in workout tracking features. Your workouts will be accessible in the Bragi app on your smartphone, too.

During a demo in New York City, the Dash Pro heard what I said most of the time, correctly recording the words I said in Mandarin. However, it delivered an inaccurate translation of what I said, which was admittedly an informal saying. You have to tap the lower third of the left earbud before starting to speak, and tap it again to indicate you're done. You can also nod or shake your head to signal to the earbuds that you were ready to talk. And because of the noisy environment with multiple Dash devices in the area, my demo unit lagged and struggled to hear what I was saying.

The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey will only be available at one of approximately 5,000 audiologists in the US. It's made with an exact impression of your ear canal, just like other high-end hearing aids and in-ear monitors for musicians. They'll also have a fancy laser engraving on the earbuds themselves.

The fitting process will take about five minutes, and involves looking into your ear for blockages, cleaning it, filling it with a silicone that's similar to dental molds and waiting for that to set. Once your mold is made, it's sent off to the Starkey labs, where it will be scanned. The engineers will 3D print a template, and your Dash Pro will be ready in less than a week, according to Bragi.

Both models promise high-end audio clarity and tonal balance for a wide range of activities, from listening to music (which you can store on the headphone's 4GB of internal storage) to making calls. They're waterproof in up to three feet of water, too, which makes them ideal for swimming and other water sports. The Dash Pro tailored by Starkey isn't available as yet, while the Dash Pro is available now through the company website.

Cherlynn Low contributed reporting.