Kyocera to implement next-generation ‘bone conduction’ technologies in smartphones
Kyocera may make quite the comeback before too long, especially if this technology is any good. It hasn’t been put in many hands yet, and is of the first on smartphones. They’ll also need to market in such a way that grabs attention, but I’m doubtful that will be a challenge for them. This is a fairly new and unique approach to building a good listening experience, after all.
The technology is called “bone conduction,” and it works by vibrating the entire screen at the same frequencies the speaker normally would. Bone conduction was originally invented to aid the hard of hearing, but it should also provide a better listening experience than a typical speaker. The screen won’t tickle or jar your face, either.
Normally, the speaker sits a few millimeters from your outer ear, which is tens of millimeters from your ear canal, which is so many millimeters away from your eardrum. This means the speaker pumping sound into your ear is far less efficient than than vibrating your bone mass and cartilage, so in theory your sound should be louder, more defined, and natural sounding.
Have you ever held the speaker grill of your phone (or device, really) up to your mouth, and sealed it off with your lips? If you have, you would know that listening using that method sounds much more clear and warm than pushing the speaker right up to your ear. It fills your entire head with sound, and feels quite different when compared to conventional listening methods. The concept of bone conduction is very similar in execution, except from a different spot on your head.
I have to say, I’m excited to try this out in person sometime, if it ever gets put into production. Kyocera could have a real winner here, as long as the rest of the phone doesn’t end up being ignored in the design stages. What the final product will look like, and feature, we don’t know yet. This is still in the prototype stages, of course.
What do you think? Would you being willing to try a new audio technology? What if you didn’t get to try before you buy?