Kickstart me up: Elbee smart, handsfree wireless in-ear headphones

Looking for wireless headphones that come with sensors for gesture controls and voice activated personal assistant commands? Elbee may be worth a look on Kickstarter for iOS and Android users.

We can already speak commands to our phones to make things happen. What if we could do the same with a pair of smart in-ear wireless headphones?

That's exactly what the team behind Elbee wants to know and it has a Kickstarter project to fund the answer.


Elbee is interesting because it puts more "smarts" in a phone accessory than most. The in-ear headphones have sensors so that you can control apps and audio with head gestures, while also including some personal assistant voice controls.

Say "OK Elbee," and you've got a range of handsfree commands to work with, similar to Siri, Cortana and Google's own voice-activation solutions.

You can also tilt your head up before issuing a command or tap the headphones.

Elbee works with Nest, WeMo and Hue lights, for example, so you could tell the headphones to raise the temperature or turn lights on without touching a button or a phone. Elbee also supports commands and controls in music apps such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music, plus works for handsfree phone calls and texts.

Of course, the headphones work for handsfree phone conversations as well. And with the Elbee app installed on iOS or Android, moving your head left or right moves between songs. The outsides of the headphones are actually capacitive buttons; sliding your finger up or down adjusts the volume.

Elbee is expected to retail for $269 when it arrives in November 2016; yes, you'll be waiting a long time to see the headphones if you back them now.

Doing so sooner gets you a solid discount, however: There are still Elbee's available to early adopters for $149.

By the time Elbee does arrive, I suspect Apple will have finally brought its own wireless earbuds to market. They may not have gesture control and sensors inside, but they'll surely work with Siri. That could put a dent in Elbee for those that don't want or need their headphones to be that "smart."