LAS VEGAS--The show floor at CES 2012 looks like a spaceship full of headphones crash-landed onto it, blasting earbuds and DJ headsets into every booth. AfterShokz finds a way to cut through the clutter by bypassing the ears completely.
AfterShokz sit over the back of your head and hook over your ears. The pads touch at the back of your cheekbones and use bone conduction technology to deliver the sound.
I already tested out Yurbuds, rubbery earbuds designed for athletes. The AfterShokz are also designed for athletes, particularly runners.
One of the challenges of running with headphones is that you can't hear cars honking at you, people shouting warnings, or slavering stray dogs barking at your heels. That's why I don't wear earbuds when I run.
The earless AfterShokz approach solves the problem of missing out on important audible cues when you're out pounding the pavement.
The headphones are lightweight. The sound quality is surprisingly good after you experiment with the right placement. AfterShokz do create a slight buzzing sensation at the contact points sometimes, but it's not unpleasant.
These unusual headphones just launched at CES, but come from a military technology lineage. The rep told me the Navy SEALS who participated in the bin Laden operation wore the military version.
AfterShokz offers sport, gaming, and mobile communication versions. The sport model runs $60 while the other two are $70 and have in-line mics.