Sonic Walk: part backpack, part headphones, part boombox
The Sonic gives you two water-resistant speakers for music
Despite technology's best efforts, headphones and sports just don't mix that well. Loss of awareness of your surroundings, uncomfortable earphones and tangled wires make them less than a perfect solution and it's these shortcomings that The Sonic Walk aims to address by providing a more natural, ergonomic way of listening to music and exercising.
The Sonic Walk looks like a backpack without the pack. It's basically a shoulder harness that fits snugly and securely against your body (unlike pesky earbud cords). Built into the shoulder straps, within inches of your ears, are two small speakers. Amplification is also integrated. So you get to listen to your music without dealing with the annoyances that headphones bring.
The idea is nothing new, and there's at least a concept or two just like this tucked away in the Gizmag annals, but the Sonic Walk appears to be sleeker and more ergonomic than other systems. It's also packaged in a variety of different types of sport-specific systems. The small, 8.5-oz (240-gram) 300 series Lightning is designed for jogging and running, while the 600 series Sierra is meant to attach to a backpack when hiking, cycling, etc. There's even a larger version designed for motorcycle speeds up to 60 mph. Sonic Walk systems include other helpful accessories like LED lights for nighttime visibility, storage pouches and hydration pockets, though specific features vary by model.
Systems like these threaten to disturb others, since you're basically blasting your music straight into the surrounding environment, but assuming people use them considerately, they could be an effective alternative to earphones.
Prices start around US$90.
Source: Sonic Walk
About the Author
Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.
All articles by C.C. Weiss
I had one nearly thirty years ago- it was called a Bonefone and Sony made them. It worked really well for biking but made me sweat. If they can solve that problem then this should be a hit!
Lovely in theory but will in practice be used by the same annoying inconsiderate idiots who keep the volume up full, waking down the street with music playing on their phone speakers. I dread this hitting shelves.
Carlos, you're half right. The Bone Fone did exist. But it wasn't made by Sony. It was sold by JS&A, which claimed it bought them from Bone Fone Corporation.
Actually I made up a little amp and 2 small speakers to go with an MP3 player, and I clipped the speakers permanently on the straps of my back pack by stitching them on with cable ties.
I had the MP3 player in my top pocket and the little amplifier in the back pack and the leads to each speaker in it's cover, on each strap, just under the ears.
The amp I think put out 1/2 or 1 watt, and the two cheap speakers, - well when they are stuck 100mm or 4" away from your ears - even above the average wind noise of a bicycle at 25Kmh - well that is HEAPS of volume - and it's not even turned up much.
I also had a Bone Fone back in '81. It was a cool product for the time and I liked it a lot, but the product was eventually killed by the Walkman. It was reported to transfer sound from the unit to the inner ear by bone conduction. That was a gimmick claim.
Given the types of technology available today, I don't think the Sonic Walk will be on my list of products to buy.
So where can I find these to try them out & buy them?
I'm with Alex on this one. The first time somebody walks onto the MetroLink (public transportation) wearing one of these they are going to get strangled with it.
Alex & Gene, don't worry. It doesn't bother other people. Because the speakers are located on the shoulder, you don't have to blast the music to listen to it. It's much safer than wearing earbuds when you exercise because you can hear the oncoming traffic. You can purchase Sonic Walk from Amazon.com.
Using some miniature cable ties. I created a mp3 player with speakers as well. I put mine on my bike. (cruiser) I ride with the wife and kids next to the beach. We can all enjoy the music and don't really bother others since we are on the move. There are some vibrations so I'm not sure how well this would work on a mountain bike.
miniature cable tie: http://www.buycableties.com/miniature18lbcableties.aspx
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