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54 MacDirectory CLOSER LOOK JAYBIRD > WHERE SPORTS AND MUSIC COLLIDE There are many of us out there who still remember the big bulky pieces of equip- ment that used to pass for headsets. These behemoths were not only uncom- fortable and unwieldy, but so overly sensitive that even the slightest bit of movement caused sounds to fade in and out, or just die completely. Judd Armstrong, founder and CEO of JayBird Gear remem- bers those days too, because that was one of the things that inspired him to start his company. "When we started working on [our product] about three years ago the only Bluetooth headphones around were the big bulky ones that made you look like Princess Leia. … We were dissatisfied with this and wanted to do something you could actually use for sports, something that would be the smallest on the market, something that would stay on no matter what and be out of the way." He was successful on all fronts, developing a Bluetooth headphone that is not only small (about two inches long) and comfor- table, but doesn't have a bar connecting the two ear pieces. This makes the set easy to wear whether you're doing a full on workout or just straightening up the house. And, as an added bonus, this "athlete's choice" headset also comes with a lifetime warranty against sweat. Perhaps best of all, JayBird works with a variety of equipment, including iPhones (requires the JB-BA-100m Universal Bluetooth Adapter), iPods (requires the JB- BA-100i Bluetooth Adapter for iPod), PCs, GPS, and home theaters. Currently about 60 percent of Jaybird customers are Apple aficionados, with 25 percent of them being iPhone users, and 35 percent iPod users. This number, Armstrong believes, could be increased significantly if Apple added Bluetooth functionality directly to its iPod and iPhone capabilities. "Most of these customers would love to get rid of the adapter, and a lot of the customers that don't want to deal with the adapter would come on board." In June, JayBird will be introducing a new headset feature, designed specifically to combat listener fatigue. This feature will be the apt-X codec from APT in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that makes the Bluetooth signal sound just like a wired earphone headset. This headset will offer a sound quality so pure that users will hear no background noise whatsoever, not even between songs. Gone too will be the "pitchy, mid-range noises that pierce your ears, typical in Bluetooth and even non-Bluetooth headphones," Armstrong said. "The apt-X codec will dull those noises and amplify the treble and bass so you have a richer, truer sounding audio." Armstrong also expressed optimism about the future of both his company and the industry, telling MacDirectory that he expects the Bluetooth market to surge over the coming two to three years as more devices come with Bluetooth stereo ready to go. To back up his prediction, he noted that about one million Americans have memberships to a gym or health club, with most of those individuals listening to an iPod or some other music player while they work out. Then there is the emerging market in "mobile phones, which are becoming more and more popular as music players. iPods and other MP3 players are losing market share to phones because now so many phones can also function as music players, so we're really hoping Apple puts Bluetooth stereo on the iPhone." And while Armstrong is always interested in the designs being produced by his compe- titors, he still maintains that he has yet to experience any headset that is as light- weight and comfortable as the JayBird. JayBird, like no other, will always design its products with the athlete in mind. WORDS BY JONE DEVLIN

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