This year the Better Hearing Blog has brought some pretty interesting products to our readers. In March we introduced you to the Hi-Fun Bluetooth Gloves and more recently in September we discussed the Nu Wave Bone Conduction Glasses. Today we’re happy to bring you Max Virtual’s Cynaps Hat – the world’s first bone conduction hat!
To the casual observer, Cynaps might look like an ordinary baseball hat. But flip it over, and you’ll see bone conduction wiring threaded through its band. Tucked into the bill is a larger control panel with three buttons. Attached to it is another wire with a microphone.
Pair the hat via Bluetooth with your cell phone, and you can listen to music, make phone calls, or talk to Siri or even Google Now. Hands-free audio accessories are nothing new, but you’ve probably never seen one that’s ear-free.
How does bone conduction audio work? Well, the hat’s tiny transducers transmit vibrations into your skull, those vibrations make their way into your inner ear, and you interpret it as sound, in much the same way as the eardrum transmits vibrations that pass through the air.
The hat itself is standard enough. It’s made of a thin, machine-washable fabric and has a Velcro strap in the back that lets you adjust the fit (making it tighter helps with the sound).
The controller that lives in the bill (it’s also where the 1,000 mAh battery is housed) has three buttons on it. You can quickly learn their functions to pause/play music, answer or end phone calls, and adjust volume. It’s in a convenient spot to reach up and push the buttons, though it’s also big enough to feel a bit obtrusive hiding under the bill.
At first, listening to music on Cynaps seems very ordinary. This is because it sounds like there’s a tiny speaker in the hat, which everyone around you can hear. But take the hat off, or give it to a friend to use, and you can barely hear anything. You hear about as much as you would from a friend wearing headphones. That’s when it really sinks in that the sounds you were hearing were transmitted through your skull.
The audio itself is nothing special. It’s kind of like listening to AM radio over a pair of old headphones. Okay, it actually sounds a little better than that, but you get the picture.
Sound is a bit muddy, without a lot of crisp separation between trebles, mid-range, and bass. You can make it sound better by tightening the Velcro strap (as much as is comfortably possible) and adjusting the angle of the rim. You can also improve the audio by covering your ears, or wearing earplugs – though that basically defeats the entire purpose.
On the other hand, we can only be so picky here. I mean, you’re hearing sound transmitted through your head. The human skull wasn’t made with the iPhone in mind, and it didn’t evolve with Beats Audio. You aren’t buying bone conduction devices like Cynaps for their high fidelity. You’re buying them to experience sound without inviting your outer ears to the party.
This can have its applications. Like riding a bicycle or motorcycle, or other times when you want to hear the audio and your surroundings. Since the audio is traveling through your head rather than air, it’s also a little less prone to getting drowned out when there’s a lot of background noise.
Some people who are hard of hearing can also benefit from bone conduction audio. There are more specialized products for those uses, including an upcoming one from Max Virtual.
Max Virtual has not only delivered wearable technology that delivers on the “fun” aspects of wearable tech. The company has also made a breakthrough to delivering wearable technology that can truly “enhance” peoples’ lives in the truest sense of the word. Part of the beauty of the Cynaps platform and technology is that it easily lends itself to these different applications. We love the music. And restoring hearing at price points 30 times less than what is currently possible is a great achievement and a beautiful thing. Cynaps delivers both.
For more information or to purchase a Cynops hat, visit the Max Virtual website.