Saturday 7 September 2013

How do Bone Conducting Headphones work?

Surprised? Yes you’ve read it right. Today in this blog, I’ll be telling you how this bone conducting headphones work. But before that let me introduce you to bone conducting headphones, the next big thing in the audio market. First of all, as it sounds, it’s different from the traditional headphones and earphones we have used till date. You won’t even have to stuff anything into your ear holes! Just place the transducer or the audio signal emitting part on the outer part of ear over the bony region and that’s it.
The traditional headphones and earphones with buds really do produce loud sound signals but also do have some drawbacks. It must feel really awesome to hear some rocking beats of some song through your earphones while you’re on a train or jogging or like matching up your dance steps with the incoming beats or perhaps driving your car at jet speed! Don’t you think that activities like driving or crossing the streets, with your ears pumping that deadly beat music can hypnotize your brain to divert its senses? Well that’s actually very risky.
Bone Conducting Headphones

Medical statistics suggest that a certain group of youngsters including me, has some degree of hearing loss in varying percentage. Well that’s obvious. If you’re making your ears to drain a sound level as intense as 120 decibels every day, then what more do you expect from your organs? But we humans won’t stop doing that. We love music, we can’t stay without it. So for people like us, bone conduction headphone is the solution.

How do Bone conduction headphones transmit the sound signals?

Well, regarding this, I’ll rather start with the human hearing mechanism. No raw biology, but the necessary facts only, promise.
The external part of the ear is responsible for collecting the surrounding sound and passes those sound waves to the middle ear. The injected sound wave hits the tympanic membrane a.k.a the ear-drum and gets propagated further to the auditory ossicles i.e. the tiny three bones, the incus, stapes and malleus. The sound then gets passed on through an orifice between the middle ear and the inner ear. A thin membrane separates the fluid content of the inner ear from the air content of the middle ear and is also responsible for transmitting the signal to numerous nerve fibres with varying frequencies and the signal ultimately reaches the brain. The noise factor is also screened out during the process.
So theoretically, the vibration of the bones leads the sound signal to reach the auditory nerve via the inner ear. And there comes the bone conduction technology with practical implementation of the theory.
Bone conduction isn’t that alien as you might think it to be. Let me cite you an example. Did you ever record your own voice and hear it play or say like, did you ever follow your own voice in a video recorded at your birthday bash? Didn’t your own voice sound somewhat different than you thought your voice to be? That’s because our skull can conduct lower frequencies even better than air medium which makes us to perceive our own voice to be fuller and lower than other people do. And surprisingly, this is due to bone conduction! While in a recorded clip our voice appears to be higher in frequency which makes it a bit different.
Are you wondering which genius made this thing actually happen? Have you ever heard of the great composer Beethoven? I am sure you’ve. This great composer once suffered a hearing loss. He just connected one end of a rod with his piano and he placed the other end to his head. This method made the vibration from the instrument directly reach his cochlea and this is what bone conduction does. This method has already being implemented as medical aid for hearing impaired patients.
After that from the early years of 20th century time to time several requirements led several inventors to create such bone conducting devices. For example the air defense organisations used this technology to make it easier for pilots to overcome the roaring of the jet engines. Even the scuba divers also use this technology.I guess now it’s time for us to have some fun with the goodness of this technology.

Well, this bone conducting headphone does work but is it worth the deal?

In spite of all the goodness we talk about this technology, the significant point is to calculate whether this bone conducting headphones are really that good and better than the existing earphones with ear buds or not. This answer will certainly be on the trickier side.
But to go with this bone conduction technology, the very first thing we potential consumers should know is whether this bone conducting headphones can save our ears from the harsh side-effects of the traditional earphones or not.The vice-chairperson for Audiology Foundation of America, Dr. Price seems to be impressed with this technology and declared it safe for our ears.
Need more surprises? Well electronic giant Panasonic has already declared its bone conducting headphones for TV with Bluetooth connectivity at a recent media event. Further the famous Google Glass is also heard of using the same bone conduction technology to provide sound signals through bones with the help of attached transducers.

Advantage of bone conducting headphones till date:

  • These bone conducting headphones certainly leaves your ears unblocked which lets you hear outside sounds which proves to be safe while on a car or jogging. So next time you’re out in the city, within busy streets, just let the music play!
  • Uninterrupted crisp audio reception even within noisy environments.

Disadvantage of bone conduction headphones till date:

  • The frequency bandwidth is believed to be reduced.
  • The power requirement can be higher for these devices.
Scientists are still busy in digging out more facts and experimenting with bone conduction technology at higher levels. So only time can tell us whether this technology adds up more points within the advantage section or within the disadvantages.Although such devices are out in the market with a high cost we still need to wait for the time when this technology will be widely open for markets and being commercialized in bulks.But sooner or later, days may come when our kids on being questioned about our hearing organ, might answer as Bones!
Load disqus comments