How about this for a plethora of innovative features? The Parrot Zik Sport, designed by Philippe Starck, has an unusual, slightly alien shape that gives great grip and noise cancelling, but with a "Street Mode" option that allows ambient sound through (thereby reducing your chance of being run over by an unheard bus while out jogging – a plus, I’d say).
It also packs sensors and an attendant app to track heart rate (using the same light-reflection tech used in wrist-worn pulse trackers such as the TomTom Multisport Cardio), cadence (steps per minute), vertical oscillation (variation in your head’s height as you run – your head should ideally be level, and not too high), and even step analysis, tracking how long each of your feet is in contact with the ground (the idea is there shouldn’t be too much emphasis on one foot).
The last two of those are seriously esoteric, and that’s compounded by the fact that that the app in its current form doesn’t really offer any context for the data it provides. "We are not physicians," Parrot’s man in Vegas told me, which is fair enough, but it leaves those stats feeling a bit gimmicky for all but the most serious of athletes.
However, much else about the headphones impresses, from the light weight (the finished device will be 75g; this was even lighter as it was a 3D-printed prototype) to the grippy but comfortable headband, which grips in no fewer than five places, to the promised audio, which mirrors the high-end Zik 2 in allowing graphic equalisation of tunes, noise cancelling and general all-round splendidness.
The reason I say "promised audio" is that the ones on display at CES, er, had no audio. That could be described as an oversight when showing off a pair of earphones, but the other Zik headphones to date sound pretty damn fine, so let’s assume these will too, shall we?
The app was very well laid out and pretty, and seemed to be accurately tracking the movements of the lady Parrot had imprisoned in a human-sized hamster wheel for the occasion.
So yeah, okay, it is stretching a point to call this a hands on, given that the key functionality – audio – was missing from the device. However, we’ve seen enough to be intrigued and impressed. It’s doubtful so much tech has ever been packed into a pair of earphones before, and for hardcore runners who are also major music lovers, they look like a godsend. It will be expensive, mind – Parrot’s giving no details, but come on, of course it’ll be expensive.
Techradar’s coverage of the future of tech at CES 2015 LIVE is brought to you courtesy of Currys PC World. View Currys’ full range of the latest audio and multi-room speakers here
By Duncan Bell, TechRadar