Before the holidays, we wrote a blog post called “Bone Conduction Headphones – How can you hear something that’s not in your ear” The blog’s title was inspired by my friend asking me that very same question while we were together. As a project manager, prolific writer, and someone who works too much, I was busy writing my latest article while listening to an album through my Bone Conduction headphones.
Due to Bone Conduction headphones sending the music directly into my inner ear, I was able to enjoy it while I concentrated on my work, but without shutting out my surroundings. I was at a friend and family function; after all, one which included dogs and small children all running around together.
It was sensible to keep an eye (and both ears) on them just in case I was needed to help out if needed. Fortunately for me, my Bone Conduction headphones allow this due to their design. Other headphones may have blocked out the sound entirely.
A Chance Conversation
My friend is a bit of a technophobe. I’ve walked into his house before to see him shouting “Alexa on!” at his Google Home Hub, then wondering why nothing was happening. He had been staring at my Bone Conduction headphones for days while we were together and had been wondering what they were.
As they wrap around the back of my head, their sound vibration buds nestling comfortably at the inner top side of my cheekbones, he had no idea I was listening to music on them and had been all week.
It was at this point he asked me that question, “How can you hear something that’s not in your ear?” and it was then that I explained the concept of Bone Conduction technology to him. As I said in the original blog,
I was surprised he had asked me this question. He has more experience with Bone Conduction technology than anyone else I know. This is because he’s partially deaf and has used hearing aids with increasing frequency throughout his life. Hearing aids that rely on Bone Conduction technology to work.
Once I explained what the Bone Conduction Headphones where I then asked him about his hearing aids, he then revealed that he did know about Bone Conduction technology; just had never known it was also used to listen to music with headphones.
I told him about the various uses of Bone Conduction headphones throughout history, such as in the military, in sound engineering, and in other areas of life. I told him about Ludwig van Beethoven’s use of Bone Conduction technology and how it helped the legendary composer make and listen to music in the face of increasing and eventual near-total deafness.
A Certain Type Of Deafness
It’s believed that Beethoven himself suffered from a disorder that mostly affected his outer and middle ear. While we’ve spoken about the maestro at length in other blogs, what’s important to point out here is that my friend suffers from the same (or at least a similar) form of deafness.
In truth, nobody really knows exactly what Beethoven suffered from, but as he was still able to use early Bone Conduction instruments to hear sound directly through his cochlear (the organ that transmits soundwaves to our brain), we can assume his inner ear wasn’t affected by his condition and that his hearing defect came from his middle ear.
My friends hearing defect is connected to his eardrum, and it simply doesn’t pick up and transmit sound as effectively as it should leading him to rely more and more on his hearing aids. According to the hearing specialists and medical professionals he visits periodically, his cochlea and inner ear work well.
But due to the problems he has with his eardrums, sound struggles to reach his inner ear. He’s experimented with various forms of hearing aids in his life but finds the Bone Conduction ones quite effective. You would not know he was deaf until you spotted his hearing aids, but once he takes them out, his deafness becomes quite pronounced. I’ve known him for over ten years and his hearing difficulties’ have sadly worsened in this time.
Due to his deafness, my friend has always found listening to headphones a struggle. Over the ear headphones have just got in the way of his hearing aids, so have therefore not been much use to him throughout his life. While earphones that transmit sound directly through his eardrum in order to work properly in the past have also not been particularly helpful.
My friend enjoys music, audiobooks and has also recently discovered sports podcasts thanks to his rather helpful sife kick. He can hear music as well as anyone when it’s played loudly and overtly in the traditional way, i.e., through a home sound system or in the car. But personal and private use of audio has always been something he’s never been able to take advantage of until the day he asked me that question.
A Lifechanging Discovery
Following our discussion about Bone Conduction technology, it’s use as a hearing aid, and as an audio aid, I let my friend listen to my AfterShokz Bone Conduction headphones for a while. He listened to a couple of tracks and thoughtfully passed them back to me. His expression was hard to read.
My friend is intractable and stoic at the best of times, in control of his emotions and his thoughts are often difficult to read. I was unsure if he was impressed or indifferent to the headphones I had just shown him, which, if I’m being honest, is something I’m used to happening. I once let him try my friend’s virtual reality set, and he acted like it was something he’d known about for years!
Yet over the course of the week, he asked to use them more and more. He eventually revealed that he was impressed, and he would very much like to own some himself. But he was also a little depressed.
My Friends Frustration
My friend was frustrated that such an item existed, and he didn’t know about it until now. “If I had discovered this, or if someone had told me about it sooner, things might be very different.” He went on to say, “If I had known about these, I would have used them all the time.” We understood his frustration. Imagine being unable to do something you enjoy only to learn years later that was a solution, and you didn’t know about it.
Despite being rather attached to my Bone Conduction headphones myself, I allowed my friend to use them for the rest of our trip. I used my backup headphones, my Apple Beats, in the meantime, while my friend enjoyed listening to the tracks on his iPhone through my headphones.
At one stage he took his dog out for a long walk in the countryside and brought the headphones with him, he had downloaded Scottish tennis player Andy Murray’s autobiography as an audiobook and has lost track of time while our walking and listening to it. We had a rather tired pooch as a result.
Friends Wife Deafness
My friend’s wife also suffers from a similar form of deafness, but she wasn’t as interested in the Bone Conduction headphones as my friend was. To him, it was like he had discovered the Holy Grail of audio.
To be fair, she doesn’t listen to much in the way of music or audio anyway. I remember discovering Bone Conduction headphones myself and, at first, being unsure about them, but then I fell slowly in love with the technology. How they have infiltrated my life and replaced all my other headphones is something that has been covered at length on earlier blogs.
A Happy Ending
Speaking of earlier blogs, in “How Can You Hear Something That’s Not In Your Ear” we discussed my plan to buy my friend his own set of Bone Conduction headphones for Christmas. That blog was published in November, and our Christmas shopping was far from over. So that’s exactly what we did. I purchased him a similar pair to my own, but his new pair are a more recent model. In fact, I’m slightly envious of his pair if I’m completely honest.
He was incredibly grateful when we passed him the gift-wrapped headphones on Christmas morning, we laughed as it was obvious what we were planning on getting him, and of course, he had guessed. But this didn’t change the fact that he was thrilled with the gift. Since then, he and the Bone Conduction headphones have been inseparable, perhaps more than me, and my headphones are.
Most Important Thing
But the most important thing is my friend is making up for the lost time. His disability has held him back for years from doing things he enjoys; listening to audio privately is one of these things, and now this is no longer the case, thanks to Bone Conduction technology.
Now, of course, we don’t profess to be experts in remedies for those with hearing deficiencies, and we appreciate that there are many different kinds of deafness and that Bone Conduction technology won’t help everyone who suffers from a hearing disability.
But what we do know is Bone Conduction technology has helped at least one person we’re close to who does suffer from a hearing impairment have a happier and more fulfilled life. And to us, that’s a solid win.