Ordinarily, if scuba divers want to talk to one another underwater, they have to wear special full-face masks that leave their mouths unobstructed by the regulator. Such masks are pricey and a bit cumbersome, however, so they’re usually only used by professional divers. Today, however, Casio announced the development of a new type of underwater voice communications device that works with plain old “eyes-and-nose-only” dive masks.
Parrot certainly has tried to pack as much technology as possible into its first pair of wireless headphones. Alongside the standard Bluetooth connectivity, the company’s new Zik headphones feature active noise cancellation technology, a touch panel on the right earpiece, a head detection sensor, bone conduction sensor, five microphones and, in a headphone first, integrated near field communication (NFC) technology.
The thunderous punch of a bass drum is the time-honored foundation on which all of rock 'n' roll is built. That thud that hits you in the chest and moves your whole body … it taps into a deep and primal place in our subconscious. But while the crowd is enjoying the power of the bass drum amplified through huge sub-woofers, the poor drummer himself is usually hearing a poxy, paper-thin, bassless pop from a tiny onstage foldback speaker. Trying desperately to feel the bass, they often turn the onstage monitors up to ear-splitting volumes, but you just can't get that kind of low end out of small speakers. Enter the BC2 (formerly known as the BumChum) from Britain's Porter and Davies - a simple two-part system that takes the bass drum signal and literally shakes the drummer's butt with it through a vibrating stool.
When you think of headphones, no matter what comes to mind, it's likely a set that fit inside or on top of your ears. There is another way however - headphones that transmit sound through your cheekbones using bone conduction
. Initially developed for military use, we've seen a few examples of this technology before in headphones
, waterproof MP3 players
and even mobile phones
and the latest to cross our desk - Aftershokz Bone Conduction Headphones - will be on show at CES next week.
Just as people with sight in only one eye have problems with depth perception, those with impaired hearing in one ear, known as unilateral hearing loss (UHL) or single-sided deafness (SSD), face difficulty in localizing sound. Addressing the problem with a hearing aid worn in the mouth might not sound like a logical solution, but that’s just what medical device company Sonitus Medical is doing with SoundBite - a hearing system that transmits sound to the inner ear via the teeth.
Hearing aids have come a long way since the ear trumpet; from the traditional aid that simply amplified sound and delivered it to the ear via an earpiece (air conduction), to the so-called "bionic ear" that works by directly stimulating auditory nerves inside the cochlea with an electric field. But the journey continues, with newer technologies which use the bones of the skull to conduct sound. Now Cochlear
has launched a new direct bone conduction device, the BAHA BP100, that delivers significant improvements in speech understanding in noisy situations (about 25%) and better bone conduction hearing performance than ever before. It can also integrate with other lifestyle accessories such as iPods and Bluetooth adapters. Geoffrey Baird spoke with audiologist Anthea Arkcoll about the new device - listen to the Podcast
In this week's Gizcast, Geoffrey Baird speaks with audiologist Anthea Arkcoll about a new type of hearing aid that bypasses the ear altogether and uses bone conduction technology to send a direct signal to the auditory nerve. Then Loz Blain wraps up with some of the most interesting electric and green car concepts the Giz team are drooling over in Frankfurt, and a quick look at a medical device that could give doctors a new way to fight stubborn cancer tumours.
Although Bluetooth headsets
have come a long way in the style stakes, you can still look and feel a bit like a dork getting about town with one permanently affixed to your ear. Also, since they are usually designed to mold to the shape of the ear, they can be a little awkward to stuff in a pocket when not in use. An innovative new Bluetooth headset called the Orb solves this problem by transforming from a wireless earpiece into a ring that can be worn on your finger.
Motorola has unveiled the Endeavor HX1, a Bluetooth headset which uses a combination of CrystalTalk noise cancellation technology and bone conduction technology dubbed ‘stealth mode’, enabling users to hear and be heard in noisy environments such as concerts or driving in a convertible. The company claims it is the only Bluetooth headset to use true bone conduction technology, a broadside that is surely aimed at competitor Jawbone
whose headsets use a sensor that sits against the outside of the face as opposed to the in-ear setup of the HX-1.
We have already professed our love for the Finis Swimmers Snorkel
, eulogized about the antidote to lap-grinding boredom known as the bone-conduction SwiMP3 underwater music player
and now we're gonna do it all over again for the USD$140 AquaPulse heart rate monitor, a workout accessory for swimmers wishing to optimize their water-based exercise routine through heart rate training. Are we just raging fanboys? No, we do however rejoice in the logical and practical application of technology to enable new and better ways of doing things, and Finis will again deliver just that (in May).