Think a song sounds good? If tech companies get their way, music will also physically feel good too.
Applying the science behind bone conduction — using the body’s bones to transmit sounds to the inner ear — a variety of products from glasses to headphones to bicycle seats, will make us rethink about the way we hear.
One of the newer inventions is the SubPac, in which users wear headphones strapped to a thin backpack. Once the music plays, the bass comes alive with a “purr in your abdomen” and a “strike to your lower spine,” according to the BBC. The makers of the SubPac market the product as simulating the experience of live music with the wonderful thumps of bass without hurting your ears. This experience is known as tactile sound and it’s being used in several ways including helping deaf people enjoy music.
We think Music.Mic expressed it best when describing the potential of bone conduction: “Perhaps tactile sound and bone conduction can give our favorite tunes new life. Can you imagine feeling the pounding “wub wub wub BZZZs” of dubstep throughout your entire body? And what about thunderous classical symphonies and ear-splitting heavy metal? There’s a new gateway to music opening. This is a whole separate way we can perceive sound, and many of us haven’t even tapped into it yet.”
While hearing through this method may add a different dimension to hearing and feeling music, science can also be manipulated to make the world safer. Hearing through bone conduction is less overpowering than hearing conducted through the outer ear. That can mean a safer run, bike ride and swim for athletic people if they wear headphones that manipulates bone conduction. Microsoft also is creating a headset that will ping blind people when they are off path as well as offer turn-by-turn instructions to get to their desired location. Because the headset is using bone conduction, neither the pongs or the instructions will prevent the user from hearing the sounds that surround them.
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