I’ll start off being completely honest; the ZEROi bone conduction hat doesn’t seem great. While I don’t doubt that the product works, I don’t see why the average consumer would invest in a hat like this when they can get a good set of bluetooth headphones and a regular baseball cap for way less than the $129 asking price. No matter how good the technology is, the ZEROi will always be competing with the standard hat and headphones combo.
Equipped with four built-in bone conduction speakers, the ZEROi is supposedly the “hat of the future” giving its wearers an incredible hands-free listening experience. Normally housed in a hard shell, ZEROi’s bone conduction technology is woven right into the hat’s soft cloth material – allowing the sound to freely vibrate the bones of the inner ear without eliminating the outside world.
While this is a nice selling feature, I feel like users can get the same or similar effect by simply turning their music down or removing one earbud. Carrying around a whole hat that may or may not fit in with an outfit or the setting seems wildly more inconvenient to me than a pair of headphones, or even better, wireless earbuds, that can pretty much go with anything.
“Our company’s vision is to bring IT and the fashion industry into one.”
Bone Conduction Technology
Bone conduction, according to ZEROi, is when “sound waves are transmitted at a frequency that can be conducted through the bones of the skull.” Again, while this is a neat idea, I just don’t see it catching on. Looking at a few reviews from the Indiegogo page reveals similar sentiment with customers complaining that the hat was too big or small and that the sound quality wasn’t as good as they expected, especially with the volume all the way up.
Intelligent Design Features
With three different color options (white, black, blue) and two different design types (snapback and baseball cap), wearers don’t really have the option of fully customizing their ZEROi hat and I can totally see users finding issues in finding an outfit that goes with their hat.
Instead of only two bone conduction speakers, the ZEROi comes with a total of four – ya know, for all four of your ears. In all honesty I’m not sure how much of a difference this makes in comparison to other bone conduction devices.
The ZEROi also has a microphone and a single button to control the settings, which in my opinion, isn’t enough. A single button like this makes it very difficult to adjust volume, skip songs, or even use digital assistants like Siri and Google Assistant.
“Our goal is to make wearable devices the next trend and put a name to high-tech fashion products.”
Sealed with a water-resistant oil coating, the ZEROi is protected from rain, sweat, and spillage. Even though the hat is not-submergible, it can be worn in all types of weather. This sort of reminds me of literally any other type of brimmed hat, once again showing how much you don’t need this product.
The ZEROi is capable of lasting five hours on one full charge and eight days on standby mode. Weighing only 1 ounce (30g), the highly portable ZEROi allows you to keep your smartphone tucked away while you ask for directions to the nearest restaurant, but the same can be done with a pair of wireless earbuds.
The Kickstarter early bird price of $89 seems rather reasonable for a Bluetooth-connected wearable equipped with bone conduction technology but the MSRP of $129 seems a bit steep.
I understand that the ZEROi was revealed and promoted in 2017, before wireless earbuds became much cheaper and easily accessible, but I don’t see the advantages to using a hat to listen to music over even a pair of cheap earbuds.
For these reasons, I would recommended skipping out on the ZEROi hat and finding the best personal audio device for you, whether that be wireless earbuds, a bluetooth speaker, or even the pair that came with you Walkman in the 90s.