Ludwig van Beethoven is a man who for most needs no introduction, but few know the part he played in the discovery of what is known today as ‘bone conduction’. As you likely already know, although Beethoven was almost completely deaf he has come to be known as one of the greatest composers that ever lived, quite a feat for a man with virtually no hearing ability.
How did he do it?
Beethoven used bone conduction in the following way: He attached one end of a rod to his piano and clasped his teeth around the other end of the rod; this allowed him to ‘hear’ the music as he played it. That’s it! He used a remarkably simple yet highly effective method which allowed him to compose some of the most famous and recognizable tunes known to man.
How is bone conduction used in the technology of today?
Aside from the often used application of hearing aids which are perhaps falling behind on it’s application, today we can take advantage of this remarkable technology in a variation of different ways. Bone conduction has been played with by many over the years with results that are not so inspiring, but several different companies have now ‘cracked it’ judging by not only the promotion coming from the companies involved but also from reviews of the customer using their product.
The first example is a company known as ‘Audio Bone’ (Audioboneheadphones.com) which claim to have perfected this technology, their main selling points are that you can listen to music while you also listen to the regular goings on in the world around you. This is a great option for workmen who need to keep their wits about them, not to mention the hounded teenager who gets told they’re going to get run over when they are crossing the road by the protective parent. Scratch that off your list of things to complain about Mom, along with it damaging eardrums, it completely bypasses your eardrums!
Swimmers are the second great example of where this technology is breaking new ground. The Finis swimp3 is a device which clips onto the goggles and sits on the wearers cheekbones. The device then sends music to the ears sound receptors via bone conduction so that no headphones in their traditional form are needed. The Finis Swimp3 allows the user to swim underwater for hours while listening to music due to its bone conduction technology.
While bone conduction applications are so far very impressive it remains to be seen what other applications will come out of it, telephone applications have been tried and Motorola seems to have a promising product in the Motorola XH1 Bone-conducting Bluetooth Headset for the iPhone, let’s see what else emerges in the future of this promising technological application.