Future AirPods May Use Bone Conduction Technology: Report

Bone conduction technology is the ability to transmit sound to the ear using vibrations in the bones.

Tech News
2 min read
The new Apple AirPods Pro.

Apple AirPods could be at the helm of bone conduction technology.

As per an Apple Insider report, Apple could use bone conduction tech on future generation AirPods to deliver audio enhancements in a way that users will be able to use the AirPods in situations where normal headphones do not work.

The proposal is to combine bone conduction with air-based sound transmission.

A look at how Apple is looking to deploy bone conduction.
A look at how Apple is looking to deploy bone conduction.
(Photo: uspto.gov)

What Is Bone Conduction Technology?

Bone conduction technology is already being used by some audio gear companies. To put it simply, bone conduction technology uses vibrations to transmit sound from a source directly into your ear.

When you hear the sound of you chewing something or the chattering of your teeth, that sound is heard through bone conduction only.

For headphones, the device vibrates against the bones in your cheek or the upper jaw and send the vibrations to the inner part of the ear bypassing the eardrums.

Audio travels through the air as a pressure wave at a certain frequency. As that pressure wave hits our eardrums, they vibrate and the organs inside our ears interpret that to let our brain hear the sound.

Regular headphones work in this manner while bone conduction takes it a notch up.

Why Bone Conduction Audio Is Beneficial?

The biggest benefit of this technology is that your eardrums are free which allows you to hear other sounds around you.

It’s helpful in cases where the person’s ear is damaged and they are not able to use normal headphone or earphones. You can even listen to music underwater with this!

Also, when this technology is deployed, you’ll also be able to focus on ambient sounds like traffic or another person trying to get your attention.

Drawbacks To Bone Conduction

One of the biggest drawbacks of this technology is that it limits the utility and does not work at higher frequencies.

Also, it does not support additional features like noise cancellation and the fact that it needs contact with the head to work can be an issue for some users.

The typical hearing range is from 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz and bone conduction is most effective in the sub-4,000 Hz range, with the audio quality deteriorating at higher Hertz.

In a patent that’s been granted to Apple, the company is looking to tackle the problems with the technology and cover audible ranges and compression at the same time.

It also says that the problem could be mitigated through the support of standard air conduction methods.

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