Invisible earphones let you listen to music all day long

07.08.13

Do you sometimes feel that there is just too much music out there and not enough time to listen to it all? Do you think you're spending too much time searching through haystacks to find the needles of great music? Do you feel you would listen to music all day if only it didn't impede on, well, human interaction?

Body modification enthusiast Rich Lee seems to have found the answer. He's implanted a pair of headphones directly into his ears that allow him to play music without blocking out the world around him, as Consequence of Sound report. Using a small magnet embedded in the tragus (the flesh outside the ear canal) and a homemade, necklace-like electromagnet, he causes the implant to vibrate and produce sound. The audio quality isn't great, apparently, but it works.

CoS highlight a more scientific explanation from Popular Science:

“First, a device of his choosing (a phone playing music, say) generates a varying current–the sound information–and transmits it out a standard 1/8″ jack into a cord. Then, that current passes through an amplifier (hence the battery pack) and continues, intensified, up to the coil necklace. The coil necklace is made from copper magnet wiring. As the current departs the cord and passes through the wiring, in its fluctuating, wave-like form, it is traveling in one of two possible directions: up or down. Traveling in one direction (i.e. up), it generates a magnetic field that opposes Lee’s implanted magnet’s field, while the other direction generates an aligning field. When the fields oppose each other, the implanted magnet pushes away from the coil, towards Lee’s eardrum. When they align, the implanted magnet pulls towards the coil, away from his eardrum. The coil acts to both intensify and direct the resulting magnetic field. Control the current that passes through the coil, and you are able to control the implanted magnet.”

Odd as the action may seem, Lee's intentions make more sense – he has lost a large chunk of sight in his right eye, and hopes that one day the implants can be adapted to include things such as an ultrasonic rangefinder and a directional microphone that could pick up conversations from across the room that would aid the senses. That said, he also wishes to include a thermometer and geiger counter – why not.

If you wanted to make your own device, then there are instructions available online.