Unlike typical headphones, the bone conduction headphone does not cover your ear. Neither does it has a diaphragm-based driver. A bone conduction headphone uses a vibrational transducer to transmit sound vibration through cheekbones.
The bone conduction headphone is often shaped like a headband that hinges on the top of the ear. When you put on the headphone, the sound transducer is rested towards the cheekbone. The objective of a bone conduction headphone isn’t to produce sounds that travel through the air but sending vibration via solid bone structures.
While bone conduction headphones are relatively new, the technology has been applied in military and healthcare. Bone conduction devices serve as hearing aids to those who have a hearing disability due to eardrums impairment. In fact, technology has been applied in non-commercial applications for a few decades.
We hear sound in two ways: through air conduction and through bone conduction.
Air conduction is how we hear most of the time. Our eardrums convert soundwaves into vibrations sending them to the cochlear — hence AIR conduction. Bone conduction, on the other hand, is when those soundwaves travel through bones in our jaw and skull. They end up in exactly the same place — the cochlear — but bypass the eardrum entirely. Bone conduction headphones rest against a person’s cheekbones rather than sitting in or on the ear as with regular headphones.