Now that Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home have entered the mainstream market, similar devices that are not confined to a single space are just a matter of time. One of the first such devices to emerge in the market is the Vinci, a pair of intelligent, wireless headphones that are promising a ton of features to prospective buyers.
A promising entry in the hearables market
The Vinci, which currently exist in version 1.0, crashed their Kickstarter goal threefold in a matter of hours. At the time of this writing, the project has already raised about $213,000 out of its $50,000 goal with more than 30 days to go. If nothing else, it has become abundantly clear that there is a strong desire for such a device and Inspero Inc. is there to fulfill it. Early reviews of the current version have been quite promising though there are several features missing from the lauded video that you can see embedded below.
A glimpse of the future
Features like the proximity sensor and wireless charging are not available yet but the company promises everything will be ready by the time Vinci 1.5 lands in March. Even so, many of the existing features would certainly justify the asking price of $200 for the basic model and $300 for the Pro version. Those who back the device on Kickstarter can even acquire it for half the price at $100 and $150, respectively. Early hands-on reviews have suggested that the sound quality is very good so you might want to consider the Vinci purely as a pair of wireless headphones with that price tag.
The video strongly reminded me of Spike Jonze’s Her. Of course, the Vinci are not a self-aware OS but talking to headphones that can actually understand and respond to your words still looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. The Vinci make use of Amazon’s Alexa to play your music, give you directions, inform you about the weather, and generally do everything you have come to expect out of a digital assistant. A major feature of Alexa is its ability to understand and respond to natural language, something that seems to be available on the Vinci too.
Those who live in the US will most likely benefit the most out of such a headset. First and foremost, the Vinci have both wireless and 3G capabilities which means that you can have a data-only SIM plan just for your headphones. If you do not want to bother with a separate network, you can also import music on its on-board storage. The basic model will have 16GB of storage while the Pro version will have 32GB. Other additional features for the Pro model include Advanced Noise Cancelling, and Audio Transparency mode, a wireless charging pad, and a premium finish.
An extension of your phone, or an impractical gimmick?
With all those features, the Vinci 1.5 can basically act as an extension of your phone though the usefulness of such a thing is up for debate. Nowadays, most people do not go anywhere without their phones. Those that do would probably not find a use for the Vinci anyway. Furthermore, the current version has a battery life of a mere 2 hours which is not nearly enough for a wireless headset. Inspero Inc. promises that the 1.5 model will feature 7 hours of battery life even with the screen on but more real-life testing needs to be conducted to assess that claim.
Speaking of the screen, this is probably the weirdest feature of the Vinci, by far. The touchscreen runs a modified version of Android that looks incredibly easy to set up and can also be used for simple tasks like quickly changing the volume or skipping tracks. When you are playing a song, however, the screen can also turn into a visualizer that the user obviously cannot see. As such, it is more like a fashion statement though I’m not sure what statement that is.
I would say that the Vinci are certainly a pair of the most intriguing hearables we have seen yet. The Kickstarter price is absolutely fantastic but making an investment on an untested and unfinished product is always a risk. The headphones look bulky and, frankly, quite weird. If you have the money to spare, I would definitely wait until March when the first real reviews will arrive. Until then, make sure to keep an eye on the Kickstarter campaign for more.