(Edit: We've been informed that the company now goes by Jawbone instead of Aliph, so we've edited the blog post to reflect that). Jawbone has just announced the Jawbone Era, the first ever Bluetooth headset to have a built-in accelerometer. Combined with multi-processor technology, serial flash, and a larger dynamic wideband speaker, the Jawbone Era is emblematic of how advanced even the smallest piece of gadgetry can be these days.
The aforementioned built-in accelerometer is coupled with MotionX, a motion technology licensed by Jawbone from a company called FullPower. This allows the headset to perform certain actions by deliberately shaking or tapping the headset. For example, if you shake the headset twice when you're not wearing it, you'll be able to answer, end, or switch calls. Tapping the headset twice when it's on your ear will also answer or end calls. Jawbone calls these actions "ShakeShake" and "TapTap" respectively. A "Double ShakeShake" is to shake it four times, which activates pairing mode. Don't be concerned with accidentally activating these features either; Jawbone claims that the sensors are smart enough to recognize if a movement is intentional or not.
According to Jawbone, this is just the initial use for the accelerometer and motion sensing software. The company hopes to expand on this further in future updates, adding more functionality along the way.
As with the Jawbone Icon, the Era is compatible with MyTalk, Jawbone's service that lets you customize the headset with Voice and Dial "apps". The Voice apps are custom audio profiles of different voices (male and female) that will announce certain voice alerts like the headset's connection status, the remaining battery life, and so forth. You can also pick an audio profile in Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, French, or German if you like. As for the Dial apps, you can customize the Jawbone Era's talk button to work with a variety of third party services like Dial2Do or Jott that can perform tasks like dictate text messages or even post Twitter messages. Of course, this includes Jawbone's own Thoughts voice-messaging application for the iPhone.
One of the unique features of the Jawbone Era is that it allows you to sync your phone's address book to the MyTalk website, which will in turn sync with the headset. This way, the headset will know to announce the caller's name if the person is in your contacts list. Incredibly, the names are often pronounced in a natural human voice instead of the usual robotic tones because Jawbone has actually hired a voice actor to record the most requested first and last names. Obviously, not every name will be recorded, and for those names, Jawbone utilizes a text-to-speech engine by Nuance that promises to do a decent job as well.
As for the all-important audio quality, the Jawbone Era boasts HD-quality audio, with both phone calls and music. It also features NoiseAssassin 3.0, an updated version of Jawbone's noise cancellation and wind reduction technology. It has automatic inbound volume adjustment too, so it knows to decrease or increase the volume depending on your environment, and it's supposedly smart enough to adjust the intelligibility of the voice as well.
The Jawbone Era will be available in four different designs; Shadowbox, Silver Lining, Midnight, and Smokescreen. The retail price will be $129.99, which we think is a fair price for the amount of technology crammed in such a small package. For those who aren't interested in the fancy new hardware, Jawbone will continue to sell its Icon headset for $99.99 for now as well.
Read our full review of the Jawbone Era for more details.