Audio Bone-Conduction Headphones

Morito Co. will offer Audio Bone, a set of headphones that works by bone conduction, to the mass consumer market in Japan this week. Rather than going through the eardrum, Audio Bone converts sounds into mechanical vibrations going through your skull straight to your auditory nerve.

(Attractive Audio-Bone Headphone)

I've looked all over; it appears that the headphones have several configurations. Both are clearly labeled with the manufacturer brand name.

(Audio Bone details - cell phone version soon)

The Audio Bone headphone has several advantages over regular headphones:

  • The headphone does not cover the ear; it should be possible to listen to others more easily while wearing headphones.
  • Audi Bone does not damage hearing by playing it too loudly.
According to Morito, a similar headphone will be developed for use with mobile cell phones.

Science fiction readers may recognize the phone usage; I have to give at least partial credit to Robert Heinlein for nailing this one in 1951. In The Puppet Masters, secret agents have wireless phones surgically implanted in their skulls. And they work by, you guessed it, bone-conduction.

The sort of phone my Section uses is not standard; the audio relay is buried surgically under the skin back of my left ear - bone conduction.
(Read more about the audio relay)

Update 11-May-2012: It turns out that the first person to file a patent on a device that transmitted sound via bone conduction was none other than Hugo Gernsback; he filed a patent for an "acoustic device" in 1923 (he later referred to it as an "osophone"). His patent was granted by the US Patent Office in 1924.

This invention relates to acoustical instruments and the important objects of the invention are to provide simple and practical means by which hearing may be effected by sound vibrations transmitted directly to the osseous tissue of the body. A particular purpose is to provide such means in the form of a small, compact and handy instrument which can be easily carried about and used without attracting undue attention.
(See Gernsback's patent drawings acoustic apparatus (osophone))

End update.

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