Earbuds are, not to put too fine a point on it, a pain in the ass. They tend to be uncomfortable to wear over long periods, they completely block out the surrounding environment, they break easily, and so on. So a new Kickstarter is hoping to remove all the problems from wearing earbuds, by vibrating your ear. Meet the Sound Band.
Sound Band works on the principle of “surface sound”, as demonstrated by the video above. This requires a quick explanation of the physics of sound: Essentially, sound is just pressure waves transmitted through a medium (air, water, nacho cheese, whatever) that your ear detects and that your brain translates into music, speech, or that aggravating buzz your coworker’s speakers keep making.
The Sound Band appears to work by just cutting out the middleman and vibrating your ears directly. You might have seen something a bit similar before in tools using bone conductance, which vibrates your bones and causes you to hear sound that way. This has the nice effect of keeping your music to yourself, something all of us on public transit greatly appreciate.
This has the advantage of not blocking your ears so, for example, you can walk across the street without being flattened by an oncoming semi, or hear somebody asking you a question at work. The Sound Band also comes with noise-canceling microphones, in case you want to go with the whole “lock the whole world out with music” thing still.
I admit to having a few reservations about the noise-canceling; people don’t tend to understand that noise canceling means subjecting your ears to more sound and that can screw up your hearing. But so far, this looks to be a clever solution to an First World, but still annoying, problem. Currently they’re $150 a pair on the Kickstarter.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.