Listening to music via headphones can isolate the listener from the rest of the world. The new Batband bone conduction headphones, however, allow users to to still hear what is going on around them. Audio is transmitted through the bones of the skull, while the ears remain uncovered.
The Batband was designed by Studio Banana Things, which was previously responsible for the Ostrich Pillow and the various riffs off that original concept, such as the Ostrich Pillow Mini. Whereas the Ostrich Pillow is very much about providing seclusion from the outside world, the Batband is aimed at stripping any such separation away.
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Studio Banana Things explains that sound waves are transmitted by the Batband at a frequency that allows them to be conducted through the bones in the skull. In this way they are relayed to the inner ear without the need for ear-buds or over-ear cups and this makes them ideal for people who need or want to still hear their surroundings while listening to music, such as cyclists.
The device has three transducers that touch the wearer's head in three different places, which is claimed to guarantee "a hi-fidelity bone-conduction sound experience." Two of the transducers rest against the side of the user's head to conduct sound waves through the temporal bones and the third sits against the back of the head to conduct sound waves through the occipital bone.
The headphones are paired to a computer or mobile device via Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming. As well as listening to music, they can be used for gaming or even making calls. A built-in microphone allows for two-way communication. A button on the left allows users to switch the device on and off, take and end calls, while a slider on the right is used for skipping tracks and adjusting the volume.
The Batband is powered by a built-in lithium-ion battery, which is said to provide six hours of playback or eight hours of talk-time. A micro USB connector provides a means of charging the device.
A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is underway for the Batband. At the time of writing, pledge levels for a single device start at US$149. Assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and roll-out, shipping is expected from April 2016.
The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the Batband.