output Archive

Tech news site The Information is reporting that Google is developing three successors to Google Glass, to be released in 2016.

Notably, one of those three models is Glass-less, so to speak. It will drop the screen in favor of exclusively audio output. Moreover, the audio will be delivered by bone conduction, as was the case with the original Google Glass.

Although Google continues to develop a 2nd generation screened version for the enterprise market, the audio-centric version, which is presumably targeting the sports market, may overcome the primary challenge that blocked Google Glass from more widespread adoption. Specifically, a small and unobtrusive bone conduction audio device may allow for a connected experience without putting barriers between individuals who are face-to-face.

With all wearable devices, I am concerned about sending signals to other people that I’m distracted or otherwise not paying full attention to someone. Regularly I found myself checking alerts on my Pebble Watch only to realize it looked like I was checking my watch as if I was bored with a conversation or had a conflict. This is less prominent with the Apple Watch, in my experience, because it handles multiple missed alerts more

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Google has revealed through regulatory filings that Google Glass will incorporate bone conduction audio output in what may be the biggest mass market development for the technology ever, but it will not be the first. Bone conduction audio has existing in some form for almost 100 years, and has a long history of commercialization in both the medical and consumer audio markets, but to date it is a niche technology with adoption concentrated in narrow domains.

Has the time for bone conduction audio for the mass market finally arrived? Probably not yet, but we’re close.

The Origins of Bone Conduction Audio

The general public’s unfamiliarity with bone conduction audio belies its age and the advanced state of the technology’s development. Historically, bone conduction audio has been widely employed as a hearing aid technology – by transmitting sound into the skull audio signals may bypass a defective middle ear, allowing many hearing-impaired or otherwise deaf individuals to hear, even where traditional amplication-style hearing aids are ineffective. A bone conduction hearing aid was first described by Hugo Gernsback in 1923, though the first relevant patent I have located was issued in 1941. Since that time, the technology has improved with lighter

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