Though headphones that use bone conduction technology to transmit sounds through the cheek bones to the inner ear are not exactly new, a trip to the personal audio section of your local electronics store will confirm that they haven't really jumped into the mainstream. Having taken Maxell's Vibrabone earphones and the Cynaps hat for test drives, we can see why the technology might not appeal to folks who love the full fat sonic experience which cans that throw sounds down your ear canal can deliver. The UK's Damson Audio is looking to change that with the development of the stylish Bluetooth-enabled Headbones, which the company says are going to shake up the headphone market.
The arms of the Headbones rest on the temporal bone on either side of a user's head, and are flexible to help ensure a good fit (there's an adjustable strap at the back too), and hinged to cater for storage in a sunglasses-style carry case. Sound is transmitted to a user's inner ear courtesy of something Damson calls Incisor Diffusion Technology (IDT), leaving the ear canal open to background noise. So you can listen to Wimbledon commentary while also hearing matchplay or take a bike ride with Bach and also being aware of traffic.
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In a similar way to speakers that can be secured to a window, table top or helmet, IDT makes use of the acoustic properties of the skull to send micro vibrations straight to the cochlea. Damson says that its technology provides the listener with a full audible frequency range (20 Hz - 20 kHz).
Tunes can be sent wirelessly to the 80 g (2.8 oz) Headbones from up to 10 m (30 ft) away via Bluetooth 3.0, and there's an integrated microphone for handsfree calling when paired with a smartphone (with support for two simultaneous connections). A built-in 32 mAh Li-ion battery is claimed good for up to 10 hours of playback, or 12 days on standby, between charges over micro-USB.
If users want to cut out the background noise, the Headbones also sport jacks at the base to the rear for plugging some supplied earbuds for passive isolation from the world around them.
Damson has a working prototype in the bag and has a production ready design in carbon fiber waiting to go. The company has turned to Kickstater for the final push. Early bird units have already gone, so backers will now need to pledge at least £75 (US$120) for a set of Headbones. If all goes without a hitch, shipping is estimated to start this coming October.
Have a look at the pitch video below to see what's on offer.