Friday, January 25, 2013

Bone Conduction Added to Project Glass

Our own Editor-in-Chief, Dexter Jaekel, quitely called this one in an example of tech premonition.

Up until now, there was no indication of how Google's Project Glass would provide sound to the user. If you're going to make calls using the AR specs, you need to hear what the other person has to say.
According to a patent filed by Google, the company proposes using bone conduction to deliver sounds. This will be done using elements embedded within the Project Glass specs that will vibrate the frames. In turn, that vibration will reach the user's skull and pass the sound down into the user's inner ear.

Google calls this method "indirect" because the specs don't directly vibrate your bones. Instead, the frames act as a transport mechanism which actually brushes up against your nose, your ears, your cheek bones, your temples and more. Where the vibrations will actually enter the skull is unknown at this point, but this could possibly be a setting within Project Glass, allowing the user to pick the best audio "reception" point.

The patent, called "Wearable Computing Device with Indirect Bone-Conduction Speaker", was actually filed on October 10, 2011, but made public on January 24, 2013.

The patent declares that the specs will include at least one vibration transducer that is configured to vibrate at least one portion of the specs based on the audio signal. What about stereo reception? Does that not require both sides?
Bone-conducting headphones have been around on the consumer market for quite a while. For example, Outi introduced a pair back in 2007 that resembled a pair of clip-on earrings. Sound was reverberated through the earlobes, passing tunes through the user's cartiledge instead of the air. And during CES 2013, Panasonic introduced a Bluetooth pair that delivered sound through the user's temples.

Wikipedia defines bone conduction as "the conduction of sound to the inner ear through the bones of the skull." Our skulls conduct lower frequencies better than air, and that's why our voice sounds different when it's recorded and played back.

This is all very interesting and futuristic and it makes me ever-the-more excited for the coming years in technology and media.

-Daniel, Jedi Editor


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