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New iPhone app lets you listen to music while letting in background noise (+ video)

App developed by British company aims to combat problem of "iPod oblivion"...

The company, Essency, says that the app, which is called Awareness! The Headphone App and is available for £1.79 from the Apple App Store, lets you listen to your music at whichever volume you choose, but lets through sounds such as shouts, sirens, alarms and conversations.

The app is shown in operation in the following video – we’d better warn you, though, the sound level is pretty high so you might want to turn your headphones or speakers down first!

Targeted at cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and motorbikers, it aims to do away with so-called “iPod oblivion,” with a company spokesman explaining: "Awareness! is not just a safety app, it gives users the option of setting a microphone trigger level so the mic is only switched on when an external sound exceeds the desired level.

“In the office it allows headphone users to hear a phone ring or when they're being offered a coffee - without taking their headphones off.

“At home it allows users to hear a doorbell, the chime of a clock, or a baby monitor." 

The company says that Awareness! is “a unique new class of active functional headphone app,” enabling the user to “maintain spatial audio awareness for better safety in any surrounding” and “bleed in external sounds.”

It automatically sets a microphone trigger level, which excludes everyday background noise, while warnings are able to break through even loud music.

The app works with all types of headsets and earphones, and the developers say it is particularly suitable for use with “closed, on-ear, in-ear, noise isolating and noise-cancelling headphones.”

Currently available for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, versions of the app for the iPad and Android and Symbian devices are currently being developed and should be available shortly.

Further information is available on the company’s website.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Kevin Steinhardt | 13 years ago

Or you can do what skint and non-iPhone-carrying people like me do: wear slightly leaky headphones and turn the volume down before you get to busy sections of road.

KirinChris | 13 years ago

Unless it is set to the noise level of a Campagnolo freehub I can't see how it will make much difference.

Or commuter cyclists all start using Airzounds.

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