How are we able to hear a sound? The simple answer to that is sound travels through the ear canal and makes vibration on the eardrums. The vibration is not your typical vibration. It is a meaningful vibration of different wavelengths which is then transferred via the three tiny middle ear bones called “Malleus,” “Incus,” and “Stapes.” These three bones take the sound vibration and convey them to the “Cochlea” located in the inner ear. The cochlea is connected to the auditory nerve, which is the nerve that sends sound signals to the brain. The cochlea is a transmitter whose job is to transform sound vibration into nerve signals and transmit them to the brain via the auditory nerve for the further hearing process. As you can see, the sound has to pass through all those to reach our brain.
You may ask, Is this the only way? Certainly not. Thus, come to our Bone Conduction Technology. You see, to reach the brain, the sound only needs to get the cochlea as vibration. And the Bone Conduction Technology does just that. The machine decodes the sound wave and produces a vibration that is meaningful to our brains. As we place the device on our cheekbone or jawbone (usually just over our ear), it transmits the specially modified vibration directly to our cochlea. The pulse passes through skin, bones, and whatnot and reaches our inner ear, and like magic, we can hear sounds, not through our ear but our bones. That is basically how Bone Conduction Technology works.
Have you ever tried recording your voice? Unless you are a singer, it sounds pretty weird. That is because we hear our voices via bone conduction. That’s why when we hear our own recording, it sounds different. Fun fact, whales use the same process to hear sound but without the device, of course.
What are the advantages?
As Bone Conduction Technology gets more popular, so does its usage. People are asking why they would use this unorthodox process instead of listing like a normal human being. Well, for starters, it keeps the ear canal open. Now there are many advantages of an open ear canal, mainly being you can hear your surroundings as you listen to your music at the same time. Nowadays, a popular trend is listening to music while jogging or hitting the gym, or even walking and driving. But accidents occur because people can’t really hear anything if their ears are being filled with sick beats as the Bone Conduction Technology bypasses the ear canals and deals straight with your inner ear. So, your ears will be wide open for oncoming traffic or your mother yelling your name even though you are listening to Eminem.
But probably the essential use of this technology is aiding patients with hearing loss. Many hearing-impaired people who may lack eardrums have perforated eardrums. They may be deaf because sound cannot reach the cochlea properly, or they might be missing a middle ear bone. The type of hearing loss is called conductive hearing loss. As the conduction technology bypasses the ear canal wholly, conductive hearing-impaired people can easily be able to hear sound thanks to bone conduction. I’m not saying all deaf people can magically cure their disability through this, but those who fit the profile would undoubtedly be able to hear using a small device.
As a bonus, it is a much healthier way to listen to music. It is sometimes seen that too frequent headphone users encounter hearing loss or ear infection. That is because headphones on high volume are actually pretty harmful to your ears. They may cause your eardrums to become numb to low-frequency sound. Or excess vibration might result in infection in the liquid that is in between the eardrum and cochlea. But bone conduction does not follow the traditional pathway. So, I would say your ears are pretty safe if you are using bone conduction technology.
That’s not all. Many headphones come with a whole mess of wire, but not bone conduction headphones. These are portable, light, easy to use, and not to mention great-looking with a futuristic vibe. You can easily have a conversation with your friend and don’t have to take off your headphones. How cool is that?
What are the disadvantages?
Everything has a negative side. It’s only natural. And the biggest issue with BCT is the sound quality it produces. Still, in its early phase, the conduction technology needs to go a long way before it can reach a respectable caliber. Audiophiles love to point out the fact that BCT headphones are way behind traditional ones. But as technology advances, so do the sound enthusiasts who know maybe one day bone conduction headphones will thrive in the music world. Until then, I guess you can’t top an old-fashioned headphone sound.
The second thing that holds the BCT back is the pricing. It is moderately a newer technology, so it is still pretty pricy both in the music and medical sector alike. People like us are always looking for the best value. And the price range just doesn’t cut it. We will happily choose normal ones if it gives us a sweet deal. That’s how conduction headphones are losing the audience. Not just headphones, hearing aids made from the Bone Conduction Technology are also costly. But hopefully, the expensive cost of technology will come down to a moderate range as time goes by.
Besides its quality and price, some people complain about discomfort while using conduction technology. As its highly unorthodox method is not something, you get used to in a day. To several users, these types of headgears are uncomfortable, understandably so. You see, after years of listening through the ear canals, your brains are not used to hearing through your bones. So, it might seem a little annoying and a bit irritating at first. But nothing a few days of listening won’t fix.
How is it used:
As you have already guessed, the primary use of Bone Conduction Technology is headphones. And also, there is the medical use of BCT. Making hearing aids for a conductive hearing disabled person is one of its essential usages. But it’s not just that; there is a lot of utilization of this technology. For example, it is also used in deep-sea diving communication. When scuba divers need to communicate, they use this technology deep underwater, where pressure is high.
The latest wearable technology Google Glass uses the same technology to react to its user. “Talking Window” is also such a device that allows its user to listen to music whenever touched. Like this, many products are starting to implement Bone Conduction Technology more and more.
So that was all about Bone Conduction Technology. And you have to admit it is a fine piece of tech. Though it is in its early phase, it is showing great potential. It’s a good possibility that in the future, every audio system will become bone-conducted. As it is a safe choice and does not harm the environment in the process. We finish this discussion hoping for a great future for Bone Conduction Technology and good wishes to all.