The debate about using headphones while cycling is a long and fractious one, but Royal College of Art graduate, Gemma Roper, believes she has devised a solution. Her Safe+Sound headphones clip to a cycling helmet and play music through the wearer's cheekbones, allowing them to still listen out for vehicles.
Our own Elliot Johnston tested a similar product last year and described the experience as being a bit like you’re imagining the music, rather than hearing it. Roper likens it to “being in a room where music is playing through a speaker.”
She says that with the eardrums free, the user will pick up the sounds of passing vehicles and other potential dangers nearby. "The volume of sound when you're cycling is not loud enough to drown out the external noise; external noise will take precedence, which is pivotal."
The Safe+Sound headphones attach to the straps of cycling helmets with silicone clasps. The modules can also be popped into aluminium cases and attached to a headband for more conventional use over the ears when off the bike.
Here’s a short video about them.
Roper’s creation was presented at this year's Show RCA graduate exhibition in London and she told Dezeen how she felt there was a niche for such a product.
"Products concerned with improving safety often compromise on their aesthetic, but it seems to me that if you want people to adopt something that will improve their safety, it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and desirable, otherwise they won't want to use it."
Her aim was therefore to create something that was both stylish and safe for cyclists. Her initial prototype was made by taking apart and adapting an existing pair of bone-conducting headphones to try and improve on the look.
Her next aim is to improve the sound quality of the headphones when they are used over the ears.
"I would like to work with an audio engineer to refine the type of speaker membrane that would resonate sound from the bone conductor. I think that with better quality components the sound could be improved dramatically."