What is bone conduction?

Originally published here: https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know-general-science/what-bone-conduction

There are some cool products on the market right now that claim to conduct sound through the bones in your face or head, allowing the wearer to hear music or phone calls, but not allowing others to listen, all while keeping the ears free to hear their surroundings. Sounds cool and futuristic right? It turns out that bone conduction technology has been in use since 1923 when Hugo Gernsback developed his osophone, a bone conduction hearing aid. This tech didn’t really take off until the 70’s however when bone-anchored hearing aids started being implanted. These hearing aids or headphones work by conducting the sound vibrations through the skull and into the inner ear. It’s a rather popular method in modern times, though due to bone’s slightly lower frequencies of conduction, sounds can wind up being slightly distorted in this method. That is actually why your voice sounds different when heard ‘through your head’ versus on a recording!

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