If you’ve never come across a bone conduction headphone, you may mistake it for a piece of sci-fi brain-sensing device. A bone conduction headphone straps across the back of your head with the earpiece resting on your cheekbones.
Without an earcup or earbud covering your ear, you’ll be able to take in both ambiance sound and the audio projected by the bone conduction headphone. This newer breed of headphones is already gaining a following amongst specific groups of the public.
Bone conduction is an unconventional method of sound sensing by humans. In typical conditions, humans pick up sounds when vibrating molecules transfer the energy to the eardrum.
The eardrum, which is a thin piece of membrane, picks up the vibration and transmit the sound to the cochlea. The cochlea then turns the sound into electrical impulses and transmits the information to the brain.
What makes bone conduction different is that sound vibrations are transmitted via the jaw or cheekbones to the cochlea, bypassing the eardrum completely. The sound, in the form of vibration, travels from the facial bones (jaw/cheekbones) to the inner temporal bones before arriving at the cochlea.
While bone conduction may sound intriguing, it has been around for centuries. It is believed that bone conduction was discovered by the famed musician, Ludvig Van Beethoven. Beethoven, who suffered from hearing disability, connects a rod to the piano to pick up the notes via bone conduction.