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Monthly Archives: November 1970

How does bone conduction work? Asked by Mike from Nebraska, USA

earpieceSo i found this short article on the web and i heard that just posting it like a whole piece is not an excellent thing, I got consent from the original author and read up the way to curate posts, so that is it…….i thought this was fascinating as it highlights some of the highs and lows that I encountered when i was working inside the business.

Hi Mike,

Bone conduction headphones (commonly referred to as ‘Bonephones’) are actually really clever. In order to best explain how they work, I’ll need to take you on a journey into the Human ear…

No, not literally. That would be disgusting.

OK, so you know how sound travels through the air? Surely you must have done that science experiment at school where you hear sound disappearing into an airless vacuum? Yup, it’s just like that.

Anyway, the sound waves come into contact with your outer ear structure, or pinna. Then, the sounds pass into your middle ear, which is filled with air (obviously). The sound travels through your auditory canal and then your eardrum. Your eardrum then vibrates, an action that passes the sound to your ossicles.

Now, the ossicles are three tiny little inner-ear bones and their job is to translate the sound to the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure that in turn ‘encodes’ the sounds in order for our brains to ‘decode’ and process them.

It’s actually quite a ride, when you think about it.

So, bone conduction headphones bypass the pinna, the auditory canal and the eardrum and take the vibrations directly to your ossicles, quite literally rattling your bones. From there, the ossicles transmit to the cochlea and the process carries on as usual.

That’s basically it.

It is actually a good way to listen to music if you have hearing problems and it has the added bonus of being effective whilst the listener has earplugs in, or even when he/she is underwater.

I had my doubts about the safety of this technology when it was first announced, but it has been out a while now and has been pronounced as safe by medical experts. In all probability, bone conduction is actually better for your ears than regular headphones are.

To quote, um, myself, in an article I published a few months ago:

“According to recent studies, exposure to any noise over 100 decibels wears away a membrane known as the myelin sheath and leaves your inner ear susceptible to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the beginning of even more serious problems. Bone conduction technology has been designed to bypass the most sensitive portions of your ear and reduce the risk of inner-ear damage”.

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‘iPotty’ is Pure Crap, Says Child Consumer Group

Without giving too much about this technological advancement article, but I thought it interesting and significant to what I’m currently doing.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has officially selected the ‘iPotty’ (from CTA Digital) as the worst toy of 2013.

In case you’re wondering, the iPotty consists of a basic potty setup, but with the added innovation of a stand for holding an iPad (apparently an aid to toilet training). I’m also assuming that there is an app. There’s always an app.

Once the infant is placed on the potty, the iPad can be rotated 360 degrees around the seat on its stand, meaning that the device can be switched between vertical and horizontal views. The iPotty even has a protective touchscreen for use in case of…Well, you get the idea.

However, that’s not all. You’d think it would be, but it isn’t. The iPotty also has a clip-on cover that converts it into a regular seat, so your child can enjoy a quiet, insular, sedentary activity in the exact same place they just took a dump.

The CCFC’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children) award, a dubious honour that the group bestows upon the worst toy released over a 12-month period, is a rather damning indictment of the iPotty’s usefulness.

Despite being described by its manufacturers as a “comfortable and fun place to learn to use the potty”, the CCFC’s Michelle Salcedo said that, “Children should be aware of the cues in their bodies as they learn. This toy takes this social/emotional focus out of the process and substitutes the hypnotism of a screen,” CCFC voter Alex Reynard added that the iPotty, “not only reinforces unhealthy overuse of digital media, it’s aimed at toddlers. We should NOT be giving them the message that you shouldn’t even take your eyes off a screen long enough to pee.”

He’s got a point.

According to the CCFC, potty training ought to be a time of positive interaction between child and parents. Sigmund Freud also famously suggested that potty training is a vitally important time for the development of a child’s psychology.

The iPotty is available online for about £30, but the iPad itself will need to be sourced separately (they start at about £400, so I’d suggest instructing your child to read a book instead, like the rest of us do).

Evidently, a parent did not design this device, as any parent knows that it is hard enough to get your child to focus on the task at hand in the first place, without throwing a few levels of ‘Angry Birds’ into the mix as well.

Amazingly, were CTA Digital to have marketed this product to a certain variety of adult, I personally believe that it would have been very popular indeed.

Anyway, that’s all from me this year!