Bone-conduction headphones essentially work by vibrating sound through your skull and into your inner ear. It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie if you’ve never tried them before.
While not new technology at all (Aftershokz makes many popular bone-conduction headphones), a company called Zungle has finally combined the vibrating audio tech together with a pair of sunglasses.
The Panther shades, which will cost $150 ($99 if you get the early bird special), let you “wear the beats.”
When the bone-conduction speakers make contact with a surface, they vibrate to enhance the sound.
They’re not for everyone. Bone-conduction headphones are useful, especially for fitness buffs, because they don’t cover your ears like regular headphones. For example, if you’re out running, bone-conduction headphones will still allow you to hear all of the ambient sound around you like traffic.
The downside, of course, is people around you will also be able to hear your music if they’re close enough. Be prepared to be judged on your running playlist — that’s all I’m saying.
The headphones connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth and music playback is controlled with the jog dial on the right ear.
There’s also a built-in microphone for answering phone calls. The company says the 300 milliamp-hour (mAh) battery is good for up to 4 hours of music playback. The headphones are charged by popping off one of the ears to reveal a microUSB port.
Cool as the bone-conducting shades are, the Panther also comes with another sweet feature: swappable lenses. The frame itself will be available in five colors, but you can replace the lenses with seven different UV400 lenses; these are the same size and fit as Oakley’s Frogskin lenses.
With over $139,000 raised as of this writing from over 1,220 backers, the Panther sunglasses have already crushed their $50,000 goal. The campaign ends in 26 days with first deliveries expect to arrive by this November (assuming there are no delays).
Bone-conduction headphones have always been on the dorky side, but by integrating them with a pair of sunglasses, Zungle could actually make them hip.