Amazon’s smart assistant had its first taste of third-party devices earlier this year with the Huawei Mate 9 and Sonos One smart speaker, and now Alexa is making its way to another non-Amazon device: the Pro Voice, the first Bluetooth wireless headphones with Alexa built-in.
The headphones are going to be produced by 66 Audio, a Culver City, California-based audio company that specializes in athlete-friendly headphones.
Here’s how it works: The Pro Voice connects to your smart phone of choice via regular old Bluetooth. As long as the headphones then stay within 125 ft of the paired device, all you need to do is say the wake word (“Alexa”) and the headphones will start listening.
As far as we know, the version of Alexa inside the Pro Voice is the exact same one you’d find on any Amazon Echo or Amazon Fire TV device in the sense that it has access to all of Alexa’s first and third-party skills, Amazon’s Music Unlimited streaming service and the ability to control your synchronized smart home devices – only you’ll be able to do this from anywhere and everywhere you go.
The headphones are going to launch first in the US, UK, Canada and Germany on Amazon starting today, and will retail for $139.99 (around £100/AU$180).
Alexa under the hood
While the idea of carrying a smart assistant with you at all times around your neck might be off-putting for some, it presents some unique opportunities – specifically for athletes who might not always have their hands free when they’re at the gym.
One good use for the headphone might be setting a timer for crunches or push-ups while in the same breath using Amazon Music Unlimited to pull up your favorite pump-up jam. It’s only a hair faster than pulling out your phone and doing those things manually but considering that the device theoretically works up to 125 ft away, it could be possible to leave your phone in your locker.
For now, products like the Pro Voice are only going to appeal to a very niche crowd, the kind that wants a smart assistant without pushing a single button and is willing to pay for it. And while it’s not the most practical solution, the Pro Voice presents an interesting look at the future of headphones: one day, Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant might be around our necks 24/7.