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.
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 “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 fella’ 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.
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. Dun-dun-da-dun!
When audiology, the study of hearing and balance, became recognized as a science in the 1940s, the principles of bone conduction were used, 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-the-ear hearing aids, BAHAs are surgical implants that allow users to hear primarily through bone conduction.
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 featured in Google Glass.
At AfterShokz, we’ve discovered the benefits bone conduction has to the athletic community. Runners can be more aware of their surrounding. Cyclists feel more comfortable sharing the road. But each week we continue to learn new ways customers are using our headphones. Trekz Titanium, Bluez 2S, and Sportz Titanium have found their way into education, law enforcement, manufacturing and construction. How will bone conduction benefit you?