Bone Conduction’s Solution To Hearing Impairment
Bone Conduction technology as a solution to hearing impairment has existed for nearly 200 years. Our recent blog “Historic Milestones In Bone Conduction Headphone Technology” took a deep dive into the genesis of Bone Conduction technology, specifically Ludwig van Beethoven’s innovative idea to conquer his own increasing deafness as he got on in years.
If you’ve not read this blog, yet we recommend you check it out. Also, read “The History Of Bone Conduction Headphone Technology And The Military” if you want to dig even deeper.
Now we’re not going to get into the detail of Historic Milestones, as that one was about the history of Bone Conduction technology as a whole and it’s patents. But briefly, the concept of Bone Conduction was probably first proposed by Aristotle (circa 350 BC) in the form of “air internus”.
It was Beethoven who created his own Bone Conduction device by attaching a rod between himself and his piano, allowing the sound vibrations to travel through his skull. This allowed him to hear the sound and bypass his ear canals. And thus, Bone Conduction technology was further utilized.
Bone Conduction Over the Centuries
Over the centuries the legendary composer’s Bone Conduction method has been replicated by numerous different companies, inventors and institutions. One inventor would create a bone conduction telephone headset that would eventually go on to inspire the armed forces to adopt the technology for their own communication devices.
As we know as well as anyone the music industry, more specifically those who design devices to listen to music or spoken audio, have also made use of this technology. Offering a unique alternative to traditional headphones with Bone Conduction Headphones, something we’ll come back to shortly. But there’s another industry that is synonymous with Bone Conduction technology, one where a desire to improve the lives of others took priority over profit.
Bone Conduction and Hearing Aids
That industry, of course, is the Hearing Aid industry, an area where more research and hard work has gone into crafting Bone Conduction technology than any other. Without this technology, those who suffer from hearing difficulties may have very different lives to the ones they have now.
To put it frankly, if it was not for Bone Conduction technology their disability would be a lot more pronounced and debilitating. During the 20th century, numerous patents were filed to develop and utilize Bone Conduction technology in a number of ways, from music, communication, advances in military equipment to the headphones we use today.
All the while audiologists were working diligently to create the best hearing aids they could. For hundreds of years and they have been looking for ways for people to hear who couldn’t.
Personal Relationship With Bone Conduction Technology
In another Bone Conduction article we talked about a person and family and their issues with hearing loss and for those who have read our blog “Bone Conduction Headphones; How Can You Hear Something That’s Not In Your Ear?” may remember that we mentioned that his in-laws both suffer from partial deafness.
Both wear hearing aids that utilize Bone Conduction technology although in this context the devices are referred to as Bone Anchored Hearing Aids or BAHA for short. These are actually a specialist type of hearing aid, designed for those who have problems with their middle and outer ears.
According To Audiologists, The Ear Is Divided Into Three Main Areas:
- The Outer Ear – This is what is out on display for most of us. Made up of flesh, cartilage, and muscle, our outer ears have evolved to be a shape that allows for us to catch sound waves in the air and direct them deeper into our middle and inner ears.
- The Middle Ear – Think of this as where our eardrum sits. Once our outer ears catch’ sounds and direct them deeper; they end up at our eardrum within the middle ear. From here they are pinged directly into our inner ear. When we use earphones the sound we hear is being sent directly into our eardrum, making it clear and hard to miss.
- The Inner Ear – Now this is where the real magic happens. Our inner ear is home to the cochlea which is the organ responsible for converting soundwaves into brainwaves. If the outer ear is a net, the middle ear is a megaphone, the inner ear is a data processor. Within milliseconds, sound waves that enter the ear are converted and interpreted by our brains because of this organ.
Those who have hearing impairments could suffer from a range of different disorders. The most serious ones are the disorders that affect the cochlea, sadly in these instances, deafness is permanent and generally untreatable. Many deaf people are born with these disorders and therefore develop their own coping strategies with support from friends, family, science and the deaf community.
However, most hearing impairments, such as the one suffered by Ludwig van Beethoven and the families we mention above affect the middle ear. These can be just as debilitating but are considered more treatable. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but those who have a hearing deficiency in their middle ears are less likely to suffer from total deafness. Although like Beethoven, some of these impairments can worsen over time.
Like other hearing disorders, the individual suffering from it may have been born with the disorder, or they could have done lasting damage to their eardrum over time. Those who work in very loud environments or routinely listen to their music with the volume turned up too high are the ones who are most susceptible to this.
How Can Bone Conduction Technology Help Deaf People?
Bone Conduction technology can be used to send sound directly to the cochlea, bypassing the eardrum completely. This is exactly how Bone Anchored Hearing Aids work. Like traditional hearing aids, the device captures and magnifies sound, but rather than directing the sound through the eardrum like some hearing aid designs, BAHAs use Bone Conduction to send sound vibrations through the user’s skull and into their cochlear.
BAHA technology is what is used for many people who were born with their hearing deficiencies, and inherited them from their parents with fully functioning cochlea. Their deafness is a result of a genetic problem with their middle ears so when they use Bone Conduction hearing aids they can generally hear as well as everyone else.
Bone conduction hearing aids started showing up around 1932 and the technology has been around for a while. Bone Conduction headphones went to market as audio devices in the early 2000s.
Bone Conduction Headphones and Deafness
Many people use bone conduction technology and don’t realize they are using or don’t necessarily care about or understand the science behind it. They are also unaware of the benefits of Bone Conduction headphones, something that could really improve their lifestyle.
Many people with hearing disabilities don’t bother with headphones due to their hearing disabilities. Finding regular headphones frustrating and pointless, many find the headset gets in the way of their hearing aids. Therefore some may choose to watch in silence instead.
People who wear hearing aids and find out about the technology of Bone Conduction headphones will be amazed when they discover a pair of headphones they can actually use. Their hearing disability doesn’t seem to get in the way, and for the first time in years, many will be able to enjoy audio privately, something the rest of us probably take for granted.
Bone Conduction Hearing Aids and Your Apple iPhone
Some very amazing advances in hearing aid technology and working with companies like Apple allow the use of wireless Bluetooth access to their favorite music, audiobook, telephone call or television show through the use of this technology.
Made for iPhone hearing devices connect to iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch so you can stream audio, answer phone calls, adjust settings, and more.
With your apple, iPhone 5 or later You can pair and connect your hearing aids, pair with more than one device, and control your MFi hearing device. You can use your Apple device to select environment presets to adjust the volume, turn on Live Listen, and more.
Tinnitus and Bone Conduction
I too have written extensively in numerous articles on my Tinnitus and one of the latest articles is “Bone Conduction Headphones Use With Existing Tinnitus And Hearing Loss”. My grandparents wore hearing aids, my parents wear them and hearing loss of one kind or another is so common today that it is all over the world and our society.
Since I have been wearing Bone Conduction Headphones instead of Ear Buds I have really noticed a difference between them and the difference in my Tinnitus. If I wear earbuds like I did this morning the ringing in my ears always seems louder.
The trick for me has been to find the best and snuggest Bone Conduction headphones so that they work really well. Just like all headphones and earbuds, there are lots of differences between manufacturers.
I recommend these below Aftershokz Sportz Titanium with mics Bone Conduction Headphones as I really like the fit and how they work and are relatively inexpensive for good Bone conduction Headphones.
The Mayo Clinic Describes Tinnituus as:
“Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself — it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.
There are two kinds of Tinnitus
This is the most common type of tinnitus, and it is often caused by exposure to loud noise. This type of tinnitus can only be heard by the individual who experiences it and can be either temporary or chronic.
This tinnitus can vary in length and intensity and is experienced consistently for at least 3 to 6 months.
It can go on indefinitely and there is no cure for this condition if noise exposure to the hair cells in the inner ear caused damage. This tinnitus can tremendously affect an individual’s life with effects on sleep and daily activities.
Objective tinnitus is a type of tinnitus that is typically related to physical movement and touch. It can be detected by other people and it can be generated by muscle spasms in the ear or neck, and by other mechanical sources.
This is the only type of tinnitus that has the potential to be permanently repaired.
What about everyone else?
This makes me wonder what about all the other people out there who may suffer from hearing difficulties but don’t know about Bone Conduction headphones? How many people struggle with these or just don’t bother at all? Not everyone can afford top of the line hearing aids that work with an Apple iPhone or an iPhone for that matter.
Of course, we also understand that Bone Conduction headphones won’t necessarily improve everyone’s audio experience, but if this isn’t common knowledge then it really needs to be.
People with hearing issues could really benefit from this technology, allowing them to appreciate headphones in the same way the rest of us do.