Without a doubt, this is a cool idea that captures the imagination. Sunglasses or even regular readers combined with bluetooth earphones is a stroke of genius. At a basic level, the technology is widely referred to as bone conduction glasses.
Sounds like a cool idea, excuse the pun, but what is it like in reality? How is it possible to 'hear' through your sunglasses? Is there solid science behind this concept, or is it more of a gimmick for tech lovers?
Good questions deserve good answers. In this article, we're going to talk you through what these glasses are, how they work, and the science they're based on. You'll also get a feel for whether they will suit your lifestyle.
If you want the Top Gun look but end up with Elton John, then it's not going to work for you. All the technology and genius in the world won't be much fun if these glasses can't offer the style you want, especially in a pair of sunglasses.
You'll be pleased to know that these glasses can be styled in so many different ways. You can choose different frames, colors, and lens styles. Here is an example of how you can modify bone conduction glasses to suit your own style.
When you see the form factor and the options available, you'll see these glasses are serious about style and look fun to use and wear.
Science of Bone Conduction
To clearly understand bone conduction, you need to understand some basic science and physiology of human hearing. The ear has three sections that integrate with each other. The outer ear is the part that you can see on the surface of the head.
This leads to a membrane inside your ear called the eardrum. In turn, this is connected to a tiny chain of small oscillating bones located in the middle ear. This connects to a fluid-filled membranous structure housed within the bone of your skull that is referred to as the Cochlea.
The role of the Cochlea is to convert physical vibrations caused by sound into electrochemical signals that travel to the auditory perception centers within the brain. Most sound waves reach the inner ear by first being captured by your outer ear, and then cause oscillations in the small bones of your middle ear. This in turn causes stimulation of your inner ear.
However, the outer and middle ear can be circumnavigated by directly stimulating the skull with vibrations. This type of method has been used for decades in cochlear implants and bone conduction hearing aids. That's an important point to understand; the technology isn't that new, but its slimline integration into sunglasses is a relatively new application.
You're Already Using Bone Conduction
It might surprise you to know that you've been using this method of hearing since you were in the womb. Of course, before you're born you are safely housed in a fluid-filled chamber. External sounds cannot enter your tiny ears through the outer ear and via airwaves.
Instead, sound vibrations in the amniotic fluid are transferred more directly to the fluid-filled membrane of your inner ear, which is the sound transducer of your body. Bone conduction stimulates this area of your inner ear.
Once you're born, many of the vocal sounds you create are transferred to your inner ear through bone conduction, as well as air conduction, via your outer ear. If you think about it, your vocal cords produce vibrations, well, it's those vibrations that travel through your skull to the inner ear.
Are Bone Conduction Glasses Safe?
Now that you understand that you've already been hearing by bone conduction since you were a baby, it's easier to see that this method of sound stimulation is perfectly safe and in fact, works in harmony with your natural state of hearing.
That said, all earphones have some risk of damage to your hearing if you over increase their output and wear them for long periods of time. One of the advantages of bone-conducted sound is that there are more limits to the output than conventional earphones and so offer innate protection. If you want to blast your ears, then bone conduction sunglasses aren't the tool for the job.
Bone conduction offers a clear, crisp sound experience. It is not the same as listening to live music or using wide frequency high fidelity specialized headphones, but then that is not its purpose. The fact that Bose has entered the market is some reassurance that high-quality sound can be delivered through this medium.
The important thing to keep in mind is why you would wear glasses and/or sunglasses integrated with earphones. Those advantages combined with high sound quality are what make this worthwhile.
Advantages of Integrated Design
Convenience is high on the list. You never have to remember to take your earphones separately, they will always be there integrated into your glasses. This type of earphone is an open ear. That means you're going to naturally hear all the sounds around you.
That's great for maintaining normal conversation, being alert to your environment as well as potential dangers. Of course, this also means you get the protection of eyewear from the sun and small airborne particles from going into your eyes, such as bugs, pollen, and even sand. These glasses are very flexible too, in that you can change the lens according to need and purpose.
Where to Wear
You can wear them almost anywhere you would wear conventional glasses or sunglasses. All outdoor activities are enriched with these glasses, and so are many indoor uses.
They will make a great partner for sports like fishing, running, playing golf, hiking, cycling, and everyday driving. Or sitting in a cafe, on the beach, or in the library and listening to your tunes. With prices less than $150, you can see why these innovative glasses have got people talking.
Seeing Is Believing
In this article, you've read about bone conduction glasses, how they work, and why they could be a good fit for you. Seeing really is believing. Don't hold back; the best thing you can do is get hold of a pair you like and give them a try.
Likely you have questions and want to learn more. We love questions so get in touch through our site here, or browse the many other resources on our site that will feed your excitement about these super cool glasses.