The ears-free headset from Max Virtual uses Bluetooth technology to bring music from your phone or computer to absolutely anywhere you’d like it in the Cynaps Mint. The speakers, or audio modules as the developer refers to them, generate music through vibration. That vibration is then conducted through another material to produce the sound itself. This bone conduction technology is similar to the concept behind cochlear implants that allow a person to bypass the damaged part of their ear and use cranial bone to help conduct sounds picked up by the implanted device; however, in the case of the Cynaps Mint audio module, the material is not implanted but rather worn on a headband.
Wearing the Cynaps Mint as a headband means that the technology of conduction does not require you to have the speakers over your ears in order to hear the music. In this sense, the headset is “ears free” because your ears remain uncovered. The developer of the device claims:
“[It] is very useful and much safer than traditional earphones when biking, running and driving, as well as many other sports and outdoor activities like motorcycling or snowboarding. [You] stay connected, while staying in touch with the world around you.”
In addition to a variety of styles for wearing the transducers as a headband, it is also possible to attach individual units to other surfaces to act as transducers. In other words, you can turn nearly anything into a conduit for a full-sounding stereo vibration speaker system. The transducers can be incorporated into a hat or helmet, or placed on a table to create speaker-like sound.
“Our transducers are so powerful, they’ll be able to fill a room (or house party) with your playlist and also add a special flavor to your music, depending on which surface you use. Stick them on two large glass windows to turn them into a crystal clear, ‘stereophonic sound spectacular’, spread them out on a large wooden desk or dinner table to get a very full, rich stereo sound for dinner, or use them on a car, truck, boat or BBQ grill to get a strong, reverberating sound that everyone can enjoy.”
The modules can be 3D printed in a wide variety of colors, including a phosphorescent yellow, that are being offered as extra incentives for backers of the Indiegogo campaign. The fundraising, which began on December 3, has already reached over $4,400 at the time of writing towards its overall goal of $20,000. Campaign backers can select their unique colors from 1,000 different combinations for the three pieces involved in the full unit.
The product developer, Mike Freeman, gives a demonstration of the speakers’ capabilities in the video above. It’s hard to really get a feel for the sound or sound quality of the speakers themselves simply because whatever sound is produced comes out of the speakers on the computer through which you are watching the video. As someone who is obsessed with music, I have to say that this product intrigues me. The idea of the conduction capabilities of the headset is also quite appealing, not as much by the fact that it would let me listen to music without blocking my ears, but because as a person who wears glasses, I find most headsets to become quite uncomfortable as they press my glasses into the side of my head.
I wonder if I could turn my treadmill into a speaker… that way at least it would be used for something… Let us know what you think about the Cynaps Mint, and if you’ll be backing it, at the Ear-Free Cynaps Mint Headphone forum thread at 3DPB.com.