Wearing a safety helmet while engaging in sports generally eliminates the enjoyment and/or convenience of also listening to music. But one new device now taking pre-orders presents a safe way to experience wireless audio while hitting the streets, trails, or slopes. Domio is designed to stick to the outside of helmets, transforming the shells into echo chambers through the use of micro-vibration technology.
Earbuds may be the popular choice for under-helmet audio, given the unobtrusive low profile. But wires tend to get in the way, and the buds themselves can slip out and/or limit situational awareness. Domio addresses these issues while also offering accessible track and volume control.
Domio is designed to work by attaching to a helmet's exterior and then using the helmet's rigid surface as a medium for transmitting sound. The micro-vibration technology is not unlike what we've seen with products like the Trekz Titanium bone conduction headphones or the Tunebug Shake. Domio transmits directly to the helmet where the makers say it will create 360 degrees of audio while keeping ears open to environmental noises, such as traffic or pedestrians.
Each Domio unit comes with adhesive-backed mounts that stick to any flat portion on a helmet – similar to the type used by many helmet-mounted action cameras. Unlike the Headwave Tag helmet speaker, Domio can be removed and reattached to another mount through a simple twist and snap motion. This feature also makes recharging (via micro USB) its 1600 mAh battery a little more convenient.
Domio pairs with iOS and Android devices through wireless Bluetooth 4.0 and can last up to seven hours on a full charge. Not only does its 3 oz, IPX5 water-resistant frame add a meager amount of weight, but the outer ring doubles as a volume dial. Combined with a central, multi-function button for track control, users won't need to remove gloves and/or reach for devices to skip/pause songs or GPS directions.
The team behind Domio understand that helmets can be made from a wide variety of material types, each with unique acoustic characteristics. A companion app is designed to allow users to calibrate the sound for the best possible performance.
Still, time — and some user reviews — will be necessary to see if the tech really delivers. We've been mostly underwhelmed with the bone-conduction devices we've tried so far, and you have to wonder just how well a speaker on the outside of a helmet can send sound through the padding inside most helmets without it getting muffled. If it works, chances are good that it's not going to be an audiophile's dream — in much the same way this speaker-filled hoodie failed to satisfy.
Domio is available for preorder through the company's website, with prices starting at US$49 for early buyers. The estimated ship date for preorders is sometime this Fall.
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