Plantronics Leads CES 2015 with Wireless Headsets, Headphones, and Concept Devices

Plantronics has been around for 53 years, and they’ve been in the consumer market for 10. The company is actively targeting millennials who are and will be “connected professionals”. Dan and I met with them this afternoon, and we found that there is much to look forward to in 2015 from this Santa Cruz company.

Plantronics Leads CES 2015 with Wireless Headsets, Headphones, and Concept Devices

Plantronics Mono Headsets

Many of us first learned about Plantronics because of their mono headsets. You know them as the over-the-ear and in-ear Bluetooth headsets that allow you to safely communicate with others on the phone while driving or other activities.

Over 50% of Plantronics’ market share is in mini headsets, and they are particularly focussed on the needs of mobile professionals, people who are comfortable with wearing a headset.

In this category, the Voyager legend is the workhorse; it’s an over the ear headset that you can put on at the beginning of the day, and it will last all day.

Its sister product is the Voyager Edge, which has the same tech but with a slightly different form factor for those who are more design oriented. The Edge is easier to put on and take off during the day, it looks elegant, and it includes a charging case.

This is my favorite Plantronics headset, and Plantronics has been very pleased with the reception and adoption by female users of the Edge. I find it to be comfortable, clearer sounding, and more fashionable than others I’ve tried.

Plantronics Wireless Headphones

Wireless headphones are also a large part of Plantronics headset business. You can get into a pair of wireless Backbeats for as little $79, or you can get a pair with a charging case for $99.

The Backbeat Fit has reflective material which illuminates when light hits it. The battery life lasts 10 hours and it turns out that about 40% of the people who buy it are suing it for fitness and working out; the others just like the excellent sound, comfort, and the $129 price with the armband.

That brings us to the Backbeat Pro; these are Plantronics highest quality audio headphones. They have smart sensors that know when the headphones are on your head or not. They include active noise canceling, and they provide 24 hours continuous use with dual device connectivity. Dan LOVES his current pair, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for what Plantronics will be doing in this category.

Plantronics Gaming Headsets

There are some really cool things coming in 2015 with regard to performance and audio solutions for every gamer on every platform. E3 plans to be very exciting for Plantronics; here’s what we can talk about right now:

The RIG gaming headset system is specifically for the PS4/PS3/PS Vita, and it will be available in Europe (through Game UK), Australia, and New Zealand.

There is a very similar non-PS4 licensed headset available in US, called the RIG system for the Playstation.

Plantronics Wearable Concepts

Dan and I were privy to Plantronics’ unveiling of their second version of their Wearable Concept, the Wearable Concept 2, which comes with APIs and support for developers.

The Wearable Concept One looks a lot like Plantronics Legend. It had an accelerometer, gyroscope, MFI chip, and it was used in a lot of hackathons.

The “storm trooper Frankenstein headset” Wearable Concept 2 that we saw today has all of the best features of the original, including a pedometer, head tracking, and free-fall detection of it gets dropped. The user’s orientation is noted, and It has a wearing state – which means the headset knows if it’s being worn or not.

Proximity sensors tell the Wearable Concept 2 how close it is or how far from its connected iPad and iPhone. Of course it has a pedometer function built in and free-fall detection if it gets dropped; this application may prove invaluable when worn by the elderly, machinists, or in certain military applications. The Wearable Concept 2 understands compass headings – and the headset has magnets and gyroscopes with acceleration. Basically a lot of raw sensor information being collected and used.

Here are some of its cooler usage scenarios:

There is a secure element built in; you can sign something from a server in an encrypted state, and the headset becomes a second factor of identification in security.

Voice Commands: second form of identification for unlocking doors (for example).

The Wearable Concept 2 can control robotic camera movements based on your head movements. It can be activated from far away and used to check on elderly parents, children at home, pets, or your home. Unlike many of the currently available remote cameras, it moves and can be aimed at what the wearer wants to see.

Of course, an important message behind these shared concepts is that they are simply concepts. They may never be produced as commercial products as is, but the technology will find its way into future products.

There is a lot of confusion these days about the “Internet of things”; Plantronics is capturing information that can lead to simplified communication as well as personalized communication. Check them out here: Plantronics Headsets and AccessoriesPlantronics Leads CES 2015 with Wireless Headsets, Headphones, and Concept Devices.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.