Bone Conducting Headphones and Audiobooks

A technological strategy to read more books.

April 28, 2016

I am an audiobook addict.

Given a choice, I’d have an audiobook going during every waking hour.

The problem is that audiobook addiction, like most addictions, is incompatible with family life.

My desire to listen to an audiobook around the home while doing activities of daily living is in direct conflict with my family’s desire to get my attention.

You know how annoying it is when you want to talk to someone wearing earbuds. Audiobook addicts become that annoying person - as the act of doing dishes, folding laundry, or cleaning the bathroom becomes unimaginable without the companionship of an audiobook.

The solution to this particular domestic audiobook drama is bone conducting headphones.

Come to my house, and you may see me sporting a snazzy pair of Marsboy Bone Conduction Wireless Sports Bluetooth Stereo Headphones.  

These headphone look a bit like Geordi’s visor - if Geordi had worn his visor on the back of his head instead of the front.

Bluetooth headphones are cool to begin with.  Pairing with an iPhone is simple.  Losing the headphone cord feels surprisingly liberating.

The real win with bone conducting headphones is that they do not go over your ears.  They sit next to your ears, and transmit sounds to your inner ear through the bones in your skull.  (Think Special Forces military grade type communicaitons).

Because your ears are not covered, you are able to hear your partner or your kid when they yell across the house. 

So far, I have not had the guts to bring my audiobook bone conducting headphone setup to work.

My fantasy is to wear my bone conducting headphones at all times - and be able to start audiobook listening whenever an opportunity presents.

I know that I can’t listen to audiobooks while working on my computer, or while having a conversation - but there are lots of times in the day that I’m doing neither.

Could bone conducting headphones enable audiobook listening while walking between meetings?

How about in that time time before a meeting starts, and everyone is tapping on their devices rather than talking to each other?

How long will it take the technology to advance to the point where bone conducting headphones are invisible to everybody else.  It doesn’t need to be an implant - I could live with a discrete transmitter tucked behind my ears or underneath my hair.

According to the built in listener analytics in my iPhone Audible app, I have listened to my audiobook (Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation) for 2 hours and 1 minute so far today.  (Exercising, walking back and forth to work, dishes and laundry). 

How much more could I be reading if I could listen to audiobooks during the unproductive breaks at work?

Should I be worried that in listening to audiobooks obsessively that I am not taking time to think?

Am I missing the experience of the outer world as I focus on the inner sensations of books in my ears?

Could bone conducting headphones be another technology that drives people apart from each other - as we lose our ability to relate to each other as a result of disappearing into our devices and our information streams?

What social strategies and technologies do you use so that you can read more audiobooks?

When do you listen to your audiobooks?



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