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Headset Uses Bone-Conduction Technology 135

Wired reports that a new headset is on the way to solve all those background noise problems you have had with your cell phone in crowded areas. This new bluetooth headset uses "bone-conduction" technology that converts vibrations from you jaw into sound. The article claims it should be available as early as later this year for around $200.
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Headset Uses Bone-Conduction Technology

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  • What if.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by xirtap ( 955611 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:03PM (#15683862)
    What if you're chewing gum while talking?
    • by tomhudson ( 43916 )

      What if you're chewing gum while talking?

      Not a problem ... you see, all those idiots who think they look so uber-cool using a bluetooth headset can't even chew gum and WALK, never mind talk. And for those who exceptions, it not like anyone on the other end is listening anyway ...

      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
        This reminds me of a conversation at an IETF some time ago.

        Everyone was sitting round showing of their latest geek toys. The short wave radio that fits in a matchbox, a GPS unit fitted into a pen, a working two-way pager/cell phone combo, that sort of stuff.

        So its the turn of this guy from the MIT Media Lab. He taps on the back of his hand a few times as if he is typing on a keypad, then he starts talking. Seeing that we are not at all impressed he says "oh hold on have to put them on speaker phone". An

      • Re:What if.. (Score:1, Interesting)

        by dhanes ( 735504 )
        While I agree that a ton of people use the darn things in the dumbest places (grocery store, mall, etc.) I have to state again that my bluetooth headset is almost the most important piece of technology I use every day. I just hope it doesn't bite me in the ass years down the road when scientists discover that its radio signals are causing cancer on that side of the head.

        I drive through 3 counties about 3 days a week visiting clients and fixing network/software/hardware issues, logging ~90 miles a day.

        • using a phone while driving is dangerous even if it is a wireless hands-free.

          even meaningless conversations distract you, let alone talking to clients who you need to pay extra attention too.

          and having a phone conversation is more distracting than a real-life one with a passenger. studies have shown the lower-quality audio from a phone requires more concentration to interpret than live speech.

          just some facts, not judging you. I've driven while drunk which is only a little bit more responsible than your acti
          • I've driven while drunk which is only a little bit more responsible than your actions.

            I saw the headline for that study recently. I don't think it applies in this situation - he said that he drives between 3 counties. In most states, that would be a LOT of straight-stretch uninterrupted driving. Not much thinking required, and the only thing to injure would be a stray deer or birro. Using a cellphone wouldn't affect his ability to drive in a straight line (not as much as a drunken person, at least), and he'
          • Can you honestly say you've never spoken a word to the passengers of your vehicle while behind the wheel?
        • How many people do you see driving holding a phone and sometimes a drink and not paying a bit of attention to what is going on around them? Usually in those f'ing H2's or Navigators.

          This is simply a matter of seeing what you are looking for. My ride is low enough to the ground I don't really see the faces of larger SUV drivers. At least not without looking up there specifically. As a result, nearly every single time I see someone on a cell phone in a vehicle, it's someone in a minivan or sedan. Oddly enou

    • by Who235 ( 959706 ) <> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:05PM (#15684098)
      What if you punch the asshole in the jaw who keeps talking through the ballgame/movie/dinner/concert?

      What will they hear on the other end?

      It's like a koan, man. . .
    • . . . only in America . . .
  • great! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShaniaTwain ( 197446 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:04PM (#15683869) Homepage
    Instead, it uses bone-conduction technology to convert the vibrations from your jaw into sound, making it perfect for ballgames, concerts and any other noisy public place you like to hold your private conversations.

    Wonderful! We needed more ways for people to hold their private conversations at ballgames, concerts, theaters, etc..

    I wonder if you have to keep the volume turned down to keep the vibration from shaking your teeth loose.
    • Re:great! (Score:4, Informative)

      by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:18PM (#15683927)
      Only the microphone part utilises vibrations, the sounds are still outputted with standard soundwaves-into-your-eardrum technologies...
      • On the other hand, we always hear our own voice partly through bone-conduction (and that's why this works), so it wouldn't be that drastic to put in external vibrations that way, as well.
      • Re:great! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:28PM (#15684163) Journal
        Exactly. The ear itself already uses bone induction "technology".

        Wake me when they develop a bone induction foot-set for my shoe phone.
      • Re:great! (Score:3, Informative)

        by ehrichweiss ( 706417 )
        Why they(the people who invented the device in TFA) bothered, I don't know but here's a device that lets you hear through your skin, it is NOT bone conduction. []

        I actually have one of these and they work as described.

        • Yeah, that looks pretty slick. I can just imagine people strapping this brick to their belt. Surely it'll supplant the Bluetooth headset as the fashion accessory of choice.
          • It's only a "brick" because these are being developed by a small company and size is not an issue for their market. The circuit is so simple that it could fit inside a headphone speaker, with room for the speaker, if it were miniaturized. But we point at the moon and others still choose to look at our fingers.
    • A excellent Science Fiction writer named David Drake wrote a series of stories about a future inteplanetary mercenary corp. -VERY good stuff, highly recomended, but as a throw-away plot device in the series he had the officers of "Hammer's Spammers" use a transmitter/receiver implanted in their mastoid for easy and discrete communication with home base. Like Robert Hienlien inventing the waterbed (and other tech), Engineering (eventually) imitates art..
  • by bravni ( 133601 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:08PM (#15683884)
    In Japan for instance: 67.html []
  • by Jazzer_Techie ( 800432 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:12PM (#15683904)
    I saw an exhibit with this kind of technology about 10 years ago in a science museum. In their variation, you put your forehead on a postage-stamp sized metal plate, and then you suddenly heard a voice. I remember thinking that it was pretty cool. Definitely a good idea to put it in a cellphone headset. I do wonder a bit about ensuring sufficient contact with the jaw. In the exhibit I saw, you bent over to put your head on the plate, and thanks to the heaviness of the human head, there was a decent amount of pressure against the plate. No idea exactly how much you need to make sure it gets transferred to the bone, but I could see that being a bit of an issue.

    If you combined that with the sub-vocalization technology that can detect what you say as you speak silently, we might be able to rid society of noisy cellphone users. Now that's tech I can appreciate.
  • The image in TFA is incomprehensible to me. How big is that thing? Does it fit in your ear, do you hold it with two hands, does it attach to your head somehow?

    This is one of those items for which I have no referent. A picture of someone using one would be most welcome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:14PM (#15683914)
    What you jawing about?
  • Two Hundered? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:15PM (#15683920)
    Atleast two or three years ago in the UK a new type of lollypop started being sold, basicly you stick it in your mouth and it plays some cheesy music that only you can hear, this tech has been around for a while and is well developed enough to be made into a cheap throw away childrens toy.

    Personally, $200 for this seems a bit expensive, and I can get closer to appearing more schizophrenic than when I'm wearing a bluetooth headset :D Nothing like raising your arms in anger and shouting 'what the fuck did you do that for!' to yourself in the middle of a crowded train carriage to get attention.
    • Atleast two or three years ago in the UK a new type of lollypop started being sold, basicly you stick it in your mouth and it plays some cheesy music that only you can hear, this tech has been around for a while and is well developed enough to be made into a cheap throw away childrens toy.

      RTFA, this is for SPEAKING, not listening: It's sound FROM your jaw, to the headset.
  • by El Torico ( 732160 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:17PM (#15683925)
    Anyone else think of the original Bone Phone? index3.html#bonefone []

    Looks like it could make a comeback as a combination mobile phone and mp3 player; then again, probably not.

    • Yup, a friend of mine had one. He wore it under his clothes in school during class. I don't remember him having it around for very long though. Must not have been comfortable. He was the only person I ever saw with one. So, I guess they didn't sell very well.

      That page you point out has a 1972 Gruen Teletime LCD Watch. I think they have the year wrong. Those things came along after LED watches. Real cool site though. Brings back memories...
  • Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:17PM (#15683926) Homepage
    This stuff has existed for decades. I had one of these for my cellphone ten years ago. It works great, sounds like you are talking from a quiet room instead of a car whipping down the freeway, even when you ARE in a car whipping down the freeway.

    It certainly isn't worth $200, though. We are talking about maybe $2 worth of materials here, probably even less.

    • A high-end bluetooth headset today already costs 200+, so having a bluetooth with bone conduction technology in the same ballpark is hardly unreasonable.
    • Yea! I agree. Why the hell did I have to pay so much money for this computer anyway? I can go to the beach and get all the silicon I want for free!

  • 26 Years Later (Score:1, Redundant)

    by derubergeek ( 594673 )
    In 1980 we also had a Bone Fone [].

    But our's was way cooler... Shozbot! Nanoo nanoo.

  • by Krokus ( 88121 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:20PM (#15683937) Homepage
    Bone microphone technology has been around for quite some time in the two-way radio communications biz, and it's much more discreet [].

    Bone microphones are sometimes used in the movie industry to communicate with actors/stunt people while on camera, when the person is too far away to reliably hear direction (if the person is dangling from a construction crane, for example).
    • Bone microphone technology has been around for quite some time in the two-way radio communications biz, and it's much more discreet.

      Yup. I remember trying out a few different consumer grade models marketed to ham radio operators in the mid 1990's.

      As I recall, most of the cheap ones worked really badly. It took a great deal of fiddling to get them seated correctly, and when they were incorrectly seated one heard *only* hints of background noise and rustling. In order to insure that they worked, you basica

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:21PM (#15683943)
    ..who already posted not get it?

    It doesnt replace the speaker, so 'only you hear it' it replaces/enhances the microphone so the person you're talking to can hear you instead of the loud area you're in. And i didnt even rtfa
  • by sourbrew ( 935413 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:23PM (#15683953) Homepage
    I have long wondered whether or not technologies like this might be a way to combat the inevitable hearing loss that we will be seeing from the increase in popularity of gadgets like the iconic ipod. Perhaps with a set of these one could rock out at what you thought was a loud volume without damaging the ear drum.
  • Does this [] thing use the same tech? Looks a lot smaller though, and doesn't have an ugly antenna...
  • I bought a corded earpiece for my cellphone many years ago which was made by Jabra ( and I believe it worked on the same principle. It had no external microphone and when I talked on it people said it sounded as if I was talking from a landline even when blasting down the freeway under high road and engine noise. The people at the other end had no idea. I loved this earpiece, but sadly I can't seem to find many of these types anymore in a wireless configuration.
  • by RedDirt ( 3122 ) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:28PM (#15683973) Homepage
    A fellow that I go swimming with is big into music and so has tried a variety of different devices for having music while doing laps - one of which is a bone-conduction headset. It works indifferently well for music - certain frequencies transfer better than others, but I could see that it might do better for phone communication. I'd think that a canalphone (shure or etymotic) would provide a more discreet and less bulky solution. Plus it won't pulverize your teeth or brain - though a canalphone might blow out your eardrum if you've got it up loud and get a burst of static or something.
  • 1. An ex-coworker purchased a pair of swimming googles with a built-in mp3 player that used bone conduction instead of earplugs. This was at least one year ago.

    2. Why not put bandpass filters that cut off outside of the dynamic range that can be generated by a human voice? This should cut a hell of a lot of the background noise.

    A year later and I still think those googles were dorky as hell.
    • a pair of swimming googles with a built-in mp3 player

      Google's getting into everything these days. Is that

      Do they sell goggles there?
  • I love this! From the article:

    Instead, it uses bone-conduction technology to convert the vibrations from your jaw into sound, making it perfect for ballgames, concerts and any other noisy public place you like to hold your private conversations.

    Perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek?, tongue-in-cheekbone? I don't know what I am going to find more irritating... the fact that cell phone users can now more easily and efficiently annoy everyone else in loud environments, or the fact that they paid $200 for that

  • by JustASlashDotGuy ( 905444 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:33PM (#15683997)

    I just asked my wife if she'd be interested in talking on the bone phone....
    ...she didn't find it nearly as funny as I did.
  • Ever hear of the 'bone radio' thing back in the 80's? Was some sort of radio thing you could get at DAK that draped over your shoulders.

    Never tried one myself.
  • Has so many possibilities for juvenile jokes.
  • Old tech revived (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kavli ( 762663 )
    When I did my military service in Norway back in 1987, we used (among others) the SEM 52N variant tactical radio. This was fitted with a head piece with a bone conduction microphone. I'm unable to find a picture of the head piece, but the radio-set can be viewed at SEM-52A.htm []
  • Does the reception improve when one has an erection ??
  • Anyone remember the Bone Phone from the late '70s and early '80s. It draped around your shoulders like a towel. Everything old is new again. I can't wait for the new Sinclair ZX82 kit.
  • Now all we need is an earpiece that cancels out the noise that starts when peoples jaws start vibrating. That would be something really useful for the concert or theater.
  • Been around for a couple years now. Reviews are mixed - I ordered one but it has not arrived yet.

    See here. []

  • Question is: how do you touch the bone with the sound transmitter ? Either you surgically implant it in there or you press the skin very hard to get close enough to the bone. Friends of mine have bone-conduction helmets for use in mountain [] rescue helicopters. Reception is on top of the head, below the helmet, emission is on the jawbone sling of the helmet. In order for that thing to work the helmet needs to be worn very tight (very uncomfortable). And the frequency response makes it so weird you have to con
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:34PM (#15684178) Homepage
    According to the article, this device is for transmitting your speech (not listening).I've always heard that the reason why we're shocked when we hear our own recorded voices, because we hear our own voice through bone-conduction... and the bone-conducted version sounds better.

    If so, the person at the other end might not recognize you, because you would sound like a stranger... a stranger who has a richer, deeper voice than you.

    If that's correct, the implications are interesting.
  • This would take some getting used to. You hear your own voice through bone conduction, but others' voices conducted through the air. This is the origin of that phenomenon where your voice sounds different when it's played back from a recording. The bone mic would let others hear my voice like I hear it (conducted through my jaw), not like they're used to (through the air).
  • Old tech (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Back in the 1800's, the deaf actually used bone-conducting devices as hearing aids. They'd have a harp like instrument and it would have a mouth piece they'd bite into. The vibrations of sounds would be caught by the harp and then received by the listener through their teeth due to the bone conduction.
  • Yea this should be beyond funny in a few years when we hear about all the weird degenerative conditions resulting from vibrating your jaw bone constantly.
  • Now I can finally subvocalize to Jane []!
  • There's already something similar [] on the market (no bluetooth though).

    Now if only they would ship to Europe...
  • How good are bone conduction mics compared to regular ones? I found one that is listed as having 70dB [] S/N ratio. I'm not sure what the average noise cancelation for normal headsets, but the one I have from that company has a X dB S/N. That's about an order of magnitude better than regular headsets based on my experience. They have some cool demos [] (check the Blackhawk demo) on their site (annoying popup and quicktime warning). Given that the standard models are only $150, I expect the bone conduction one to
  • Colonel, this is Snake. I'm at the sneakpoint.

    Yes, this looks a lot like the same idea as the Codec from Metal Gear Solid. :D
  • 90% of the comments are how "old" this technology is...

    How is that relevant? I think it's very usefull.. and would love it for my MP3 player instead of wering a big headset to protect my ears []!

    If it'd be a bit more compact, I'd certainly go out and buy one and enjoy my music without worrying to lose my hearing before I'm 30.

  • ...bone, head, crowded areas, vibrations, jaw, $ reminds me of something...
  • I am mostly deaf due to lack of ear canals, so I have to wear an analog bone conduction hearing aid (Oticon 380p). I wonder if this technology is the same as used in cellphone as noted in the story. It's awful and confusing when I have background sound, noises, etc. and trying to hear. Hence, why I request a quiet area/place to hear. The hearing aid cannot distinguish which sound/voices I want to hear. It's basically like a microphone and amplified all audio it can detect up.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:55PM (#15685063)
    I would say a good 50% of the people posting seem to think the $200 device transmits sound via the bone.

    No, it's picking up sound from your skull when you speak - thus a bone MICROPHONE. As far as listening to calls, that still uses a speaker.

    That's why sound is so clear - for the person listening to YOU talk, not the other way round.
  • Isn't this like the throat mikes [] used by panzer crews in the second world war?
    I don't see why 50 year old tech should cost more than a few dollars. (Yes, sure they might be better than a WW2 tank mike, but USD 200 is preposterous).
  • Any of the old-timers here remember the Bone Fone [] from the 1980s?

    A walkman the way it shoulda been - with good quality sound, under a pound! My father had one, and I loved it when I was a wee lad. (Alas, I could never remember to turn it off when done, so I wasn't allowed to use it much)
    • I had a bone fone.

      Basically, they didn't work that well using "Bone Conduction" unless pressed hard against a bony surface.

      And even then the audio quality suffered. I got the feeling that the developers didn't really understand it.

      It's not that bone conduction is that suprising... You can see how it works by pressing your finger against a floppy drive to see if it's seeking. An old technique I learned long ago in noisy colocation environments to tell me if the disk really was being read. (You can head a flo
  • Now I can subvocalize and communicate with Jane without my wife hearing.

    ("Speaker for the Dead" reference)
  • Wired reports that a new headset is on the way to solve all those background noise problems you have had with your cell phone in crowded areas.

    Here's an idea, learn some fucking manners and don't use your phone in a crowd or while driving. And if you do use a phone while driving, consider drunk driving instead, it's safer.

  • My jaw clicks whenever I move it a fair amount. I doubt anyone I was talking to would like to hear "Hey Bob! *CRACK!* How are *CRACK!* you?"...
  • In a barn somewhere deep in Connecticut sometime in the mid-90's (think Mac Lc II), Hatter sits in some relative stranger's home recording studio recieving alternative therapy for one of his more exotic afflictions (read: the relatively unknown world of dyslexia at that time). Some sort of trendy auditory "treatment" based on "solid scientific fact" perhaps read through a crystal ball. This therapy was based on sonic frequency and bone conduction. I don't remember much, but I do remember the "therapist" say
  • by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Sunday July 09, 2006 @06:26AM (#15686338)
    While this articles replies often tivialize the bone/sound phenomon, The way bone affects sound is interesting, and is still used today by skilled ear/nose/throat surgeons to detect tumors.

    Where initial diagnosis of acoustic neuroma(tumours on nerves) need to often be made before referral to MRI test, the skilled doctor can actually detect changes in tuning fork pitch, when placed against the skull, when a tumor is present.
  • first it was our brains, now jaw, god knows what is next.
  • Bone phone? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Geminii ( 954348 )
    Is that what's used to make... booty calls?

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev