Another day, another rumor swirling around Google’s much talked about Project Glass; the wearable Android device that would layer your smart phone display over your world providing a revolutionary way to interact with Google’s various services like Maps and Google Now. A US patent application was published today showing a “wearable computing device with indirect bone-conduction speaker.” If this were true this would certainly be a very exciting development. However, keep in mind that all this patent application means is that Google was considering developing this technology at some point. And although the diagram below does seem to resemble Google Glass, its also possible that Google would develop this technology, but use it in something else first.
What is bone-conduction audio? It uses the bones of the skull to send vibrations to the inner ear. Its a technology that has been used by divers and hearing aids for some time now. The first time it was used was actually 1923, so this is hardly ground breaking. Bone-conduction also has several advantages over normal headphones. The sound is very crisp and clear, and it is reported to sound like it is coming from inside your head mostly because, well it is. There are, of course drawbacks. For starters this technology tends to use much more power than traditional earbuds. So for a device that will need to use power in sips as opposed to gulps like Google Glass or even head phones, this tech hasn’t been practical so far. There have also been issues getting a proper range of sounds to be heard. Bone-conduction is what makes your voice sound lower and richer to you than to other people. If you’ve ever heard a recording of yourself and thought it sounded terrible, that is probably why. Therefore bone-conduction can struggle to resonate higher frequency audio at times.
If a company can develop a practical, power-efficient bone-conduction audio device it will change all of our lives for the better. Background noise doesn’t interfere with hearing noise produced by these devices, and you can even use them while wearing ear protection. So a construction worker could have a conversation on his cell phone while using his jack-hammer. If that isn’t a futuristic, science-fiction level of advancement I don’t know what is. Will we all get a chance to experience this in the near future? I have no idea but stay tuned to Android Headlines and we will certainly keep you up to date.