20 November 2014
Bone conducting comminications, how this beats every other kind of earpiece
Published 20 November 2014
Music is a massive part of daily life and it may be for nearly as long as People have now been on this planet. I often point to a finding of the 40,000-year-old flute dating back to that ice age as proof for this, but truly, the evidence you will need is all around you, every day. We bear in mind ballads and songs long after the people who initially composed them have died and rotted away (a thought which I find curiously reassuring) and the music industry, love it or hate it, is always a huge business.
However, whilst the ice age musicians probably lived during a world of stark brutality, frozen, dull wastelands and tough, âkill or be killedâ inter-cave politics, they by no means required to cope with road works, transport lorries, screaming children or drunken crowd-rousers on their way to a stag evening. Fortunate buggers.
Todayâs listener has to accommodate all that plus much more, which can make listening to your music not only difficult, but also dangerous.
Now, however, current science has stumbled over a way in which you'll be able to still listen to the favourite tunes, even when youâre wearing earplugs (no, I have not been sniffing discarded paint cans once more). It is called skeleton conduction tech and no, despite the marginally strange name, it in truth doesnât hurt...
Based on recent fields of study, exposure to any noise over 100 decibels wears away a membrane known as the myelin sheath and leaves your internal ear susceptible to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the start of even more important problems. Bone conduction technology is designed to bypass various sensitive portions of the ear and reduce the chance of inner-ear damage.
How? Well, in order to know that, we require to first understand how our ears truly work. (HERE COMES THE SCIENCE-Y BIT) Principally, noise travels though the air, these sound waves are intercepted by quite a few structures inside the ear and are eventually translated and transmitted into our brains (if it helps, think of it much like the encoding/decoding of digital information, such as that which guides the actions of a wireless mouse).
The sound waves first encounter a piece of cartilage (yes, similar stuff a sharkâs skeleton is made of), which helps to focus the sound, this is named a pinna (but you are able to call it your outer ear without appearing too silly).
Subsequently, the sound waves pass into your central ear, it is filled with air and also includes both your auditory canal plus your eardrum (my little brother burst his when he was little and almost burst mine crying about it). The eardrum vibrates, passing the sound through to a ossicles, that are three small bones (that are in fact pretty essential to your sense of balance, I am told). These tiny bones transmit the signal to the cochlea, that is a fluid-filled infrastructure that âencodesâ the indicators for our brain to âdecodeâ.
Bone conduction technology vibrates the bones of the skull, distributing the sound directly to a cochlea and bypassing the rest of the ear completely. The nerve impulses transmitted to your human brain are exactly the same, however the sensitive mechanism of the ear does not have to deal with the hassle of, to quote Anchormanâs Brick Tamland âLOUD NOISES!â
This method seems to be completely safe; in fact, the famously deaf composer Beethoven employed a rudimentary version of this method to be able to create his most renowned works. He attached a rod linking his piano and his head and, as such, was able to listen to the song he was playing.
So there you go, rather then exposing your delicate ears to louder and louder volumes, just to drown out the environment noise, it is possible to instead stick your earp