Earable Sensing: Bringing Intelligence to All Headphones

Fig. 1. The HeadFi prototype. The core components are two resistors and thus can be easily miniaturized and embedded into a smartphone or bluetooth headset as an integrated circuit.

Invention Summary:

Headphones continue to gain intelligence as new functions are added to them. Existing smart headphones, however, heavily rely on auxiliary sensors that would inevitably add their weight, bulk, cost, and power consumption, which will in turn hinder their wide adoptions.

Rutgers inventors introduce HeadFi, an earable sensing platform offering headphones intelligence without adding auxiliary sensors. HeadFi employs the headphones, particularly the pair of drivers inside, as a versatile sensor to enable new applications spanning across mobile health, user-interfaces, and context awareness.

HeadFi works as a plug-in peripheral connecting the headphones and pairing device (e.g., smartphone). The simplicity and small size of this design also makes it possible to be embedded into the pairing device or the headphone itself as an integrated circuit.

HeadFi can realize the earable intelligence at an unprecedented scale by transforming hundreds of millions of “dumb” headphones into smart ones.

  • Enabling all "dumb" headphones (headphones without microphones or any other extra sensors) to provide smart applications including voice communication, user authentication, heart rate monitoring, and touch gesture control
  • By avoiding the need for dedicated sensors, can potentially help design smaller smart headphones with lower power requirements than existing smart headphones


  • It uses the headphones, in particular the pair of drivers inside, as a versatile sensor to enable smart services as opposed to adding auxiliary sensors
  • It serves as a plug-in peripheral, connecting the headphones and the pairing device in a non-intrusive manner avoiding hardware modification and customization that may add weight and bulk, and break both the internal circuit design and external
  • It is a low-cost and low-power hardware peripheral that introduces minimal power consumption on both headphones and the pairing device

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or collaboration.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Wenjuan Zhu
Licensing Manager
Rutgers University