Damson Headbones bone conductive headset first look
Last year, audio company Damson set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund getting their neat bone conducting headgear to market. Today I got to try their new Headbones head on, as it were.
Today I attended the Wearable Technology show at London’s ExCeL centre. Amongst the plethora of smartwatches, fitness trackers and clothing with flashing lights was a stand bearing the familiar name of Damson.
I was intrigued to see what Damson had on their stand as I am waiting to receive a Bluetooth speaker from them to review – I wasn’t aware they made anything I could really wear.
As you may have read in my headphone reviews, especially about noise-cancelling cans, I will more often than not mention the risks of not hearing your surroundings if you intend to use said devices outside. Not only traffic but people walking up behind you. Headbones allows you to keep your lug-holes open whilst still being able to hear your music clearly.
I’ve read quite a lot about bone conduction tech and how it works by bypassing your ear-canal. The source, instead, sits directly on your temporal lobe and emits small vibrations into the inner ear – but it still sounds and feels like magic.
Talking to the guy on the stand he likened the scenario to being at a gig or a noisy bar. Your brain is able to focus in on the music but, when you want to talk to your friend, is equally adept at ‘turning down the music’ to focus on your mate’s reply.
The Headbones headset connects to your phone or music player via Bluetooth 3.0. The adjustable headband fits around the back of your head and then the business end rests just in front of your ears. This means that they can be worn with cycle, horse riding, skateboarding or snowboarding helmets without getting in the way. They should also stay put if you’re wearing them when out on a run or doing something else equally sporty.
You could even wear these at the same time as wearing ear protection and should still be able to hear the music in noisy environments.
Testing the Headbones in the exhibition hall, the audio was very clear when played at a reasonable volume. It was an interesting feeling as the bass thumped against my temples. Not that it wasn’t pleasant but to get any similar physical response from audio would normally involve something much bigger.
The battery will give you around 8 hours of bone conductive audio or 20+ hours if you’re just using it as a Bluetooth receiver with your normal headphones.
Yup, you can use Headbones as a receiver should you want to be more plugged in as they feature a 3.5mm jack built in to the main unit so you can add your favourite pair of headphones to it – great to use on public transport when you’re more likely to want a bit more isolation. There is also a line in on the other side.
One of the things that really makes Headbones and this sort of technology exciting is that it allows people with certain hearing impairments to enjoy music.
I would really be interested to take these on a longer term test to see how comfortable they are to use (especially with my long hair) and just how good they are with traffic noise and all the other interference the London commute has to offer.
Headbones are available now for £99 and come in black or black and red. As a Barnsley lad, I really love the proud declaration of ‘Designed in Yorkshire, made in China’ too 😉
Here’s the video first put on Kickstarter which explains the Headbones headset a bit better: