We embrace any product or technology that serves to banish ugly Bluetooth ear-tennas from the ears of busy, always-connected professionals, but we’ve got a big old bear hug for the designers of the Buhel SOUNDglass, a pair of sunglasses that use Bluetooth and bone conduction technology to pass sound through the bones in a wearer’s head, directly to the inner ear.
The SOUNDglass incorporate a USB-rechargeable battery, a noise-cancelling microphone built into the bridge just above the nose, and will come with three different interchangeable lenses, one of them clear for use indoors or during darker hours. The battery is said to last for about 4-hours of active use, though the volume at which music is played could knock that estimate down a bit.
Under their current design, the SOUNDglass appear to place the bone conduction pads just forward from the ear. In this way, the vibrations created by the pads will pass through the skin, vibrating the bones in the wearer’s head, where the signal gets routed toward the inner ear. These vibrations are interpreted as sound by the ear and brain as normal. The big difference here is that the vibrations don’t have to be routed through the outer ear, leaving the ear free to hear sounds around them, and unobstructed by ugly black sticks with glowing blue lights on them.
Earlybird backers pledging $165 will net themselves a black pair of limited first edition SOUNDglass, and, of course, the gratitude of the Buhel team, which promises with absolute certainty that delivery to early backers will take place in Febrary 2015. By Spring 2015, Buhel says the sunglasses will be sold for $270.
We’ve experienced bone conduction audio technology before when we reviewed the Aftershockz Bluez, a pair of bone conduction headphones that were fun to play around with, but more of a novelty product than anything else. They weren’t a good replacement for traditional headphones, and since that’s all they proposed to do, it was hard to get too excited about them. At least Buhel’s product is a multitasker that provides needed shade from the sun while taking on a familiar and accepted form factor that doesn’t draw unneeded attention (until you start talking to the air with no black stick pointing out of your ear — what happens then?).
It appears Buhel could use a bit of a bump for its campaign. With just 28 days left to go, the project still needs to raise $99,000 of its $110,00 goal, so if you’re interested, you might want to get your pledge on.