Underwater headphones allow swimmers to hear 'crystal clear audio'

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U.S. manufacturer Finis has won a Red Dot design award for a waterproof MP3 player that allows swimmers to listen to music underwater by transmitting sound through the cheekbone directly to the inner ear.

The Neptune MP3 players uses what Finis calls its Bone Conduction technology to conduct sound from the MP3 player's headphones through the bones in the human skull to the cochlea in the inner ear, using speakers the rest on the temples. Tiny hairs in the cochlea sense vibrations in the cochlear fluid and convert the vibrations into electrical signals, which are communicated via neurotransmitters to the brain.

Ordinarily, sound waves also pass through the ear canal and vibrate the eardrum, which causes the fluid in the cochlea to vibrate. But when the ear is underwater, water replaces air in the ear canal and dampens the volume and clarity of the sound.

Dave Seiler, a marketing coordinator at Finis, is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying that the Neptune is based on a 1970s device called the Bone Fone, a device transferred sound via the collarbones.

On its website, Finis says the headphones allow users to hear "crystal clear audio" when under water. The MP3 player stores 1,000 songs.

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