When our customers first try on a pair of AfterShokz headphones, they haven’t experienced anything like it. With the ability to listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts, while still having ears open to nature, traffic, or conversation, it almost feels like you’ve been gifted some sort of superpower! Our products are innovative, but the bone conduction technology behind them isn’t anything new.
How We Hear
We mostly hear through air conduction, but we hear through elements of bone conduction too! Ever listen to your voice on a recording and wonder why it sounds so different? It’s because we’re used to hearing how our voices sound through a combination of air and bone conduction. Ever plug your ears and hum, and wonder how you can still hear the tune? Yup - that’s bone conduction too! Through our bones is just another path which sound travels.
The Discovery of Bone Conduction
The “phenomenon” of bone conduction is generally credited as being discovered in the 1500s, though some say it can be traced back to around 2AD. A physician, mathematician, philosopher and all-around brilliant fellow by the name of Girolamo Cardano noticed that it was possible to hear through a rod or spear when placed between the teeth. He detailed his findings in his controversial publication De Subtilitate, but the information hadn’t really been applied to anything, let alone to help the deaf or hearing-impaired, until later.
The First Hearing Aids
Fast-forward several hundred years, when Cardano’s controversial findings weren't so controversial, a number of devices were fashioned throughout Europe that tapped into this bone conduction phenomenon as a way to improve hearing. It’s been theorized that Beethoven had created his own version of a rod which, with one end between his teeth and the other against his piano, allowed him to faintly hear the notes that he composed.
Bone Conduction & Audiology
When audiology, the study of hearing and balance, became recognized as a science in the 1940s, the principles of bone conduction were put into practice and continue to be used today to help identify or rule out different hearing disorders.
BAHA hearing aids, or bone-anchored hearing aids, were first introduced in the 1970s. Unlike in-ear hearing aids, BAHAs are surgical implants that allow users to hear primarily through bone conduction.
Bone Conduction - Not Just For Hearing Impaired
While bone conduction technology is a life-changer for many hearing-impaired and partially deaf individuals, its applications are limitless. The military has incorporated bone conduction technology in its missions, and it was even featured in Google Glass.
At AfterShokz, we’ve discovered the benefits bone conduction has for the athletic community. Runners can be more aware of their surroundings. Cyclists feel more comfortable sharing the road. But each week, we continue to learn new ways customers are using our headphones. Aeropex, Air, and Titanium have found their way into education, law enforcement, manufacturing, and construction. How does bone conduction benefit you?