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Fitness sensor earphones gather health data, deliver music

The soon-to-be-released Iriver On earbuds will bring Valencell's fitness sensor technology to consumers for the first time.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Iriver ON
The right earbud contains the fitness sensor. Amanda Kooser/CNET

LAS VEGAS--The last time we caught up with Valencell, the company was hoping its PerformTek fitness-monitoring sensor technology would be available to consumers last fall. It's taken a little longer than expected, but the tech has been licensed to Iriver and will be available in March in the form of the $199 Iriver On earbuds.

As we've seen at CES this year, everybody and their grandmother has developed some sort of wearable fitness technology. What sets the Iriver On apart is that it's integrated with a device you already wear while exercising: earbuds. There's no bracelet to wear or dongle to clip on; you just monitor your heart rate, distance, cadence, speed, and calories burned while you rock out.

The On isn't an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink health device. It won't monitor your sleep, for example, but it is geared for serious fitness use. Iriver will also launch an app that will monitor and track all the data from the sensor.

The Iriver's back-of-the-neck design is another interesting design decision. It has the advantage of keeping the bulk of the device off your ears and out of the way. The earbud concept is definitely an appealing one for people who aren't into wearing watches and bracelets.

Iriver On
The Iriver On in action. Amanda Kooser/CNET