Panasonic bone-conduction headphones take tunes straight to the dome

Panasonic takes to CES 2013 to announce a pair of headphones that use your cheekbones to transmit audio, freeing your ears to hear the outside world.

Justin Yu
Justin Yu Associate Editor / Reviews - Printers and peripherals

Justin Yu covered headphones and peripherals for CNET.

2 min read
Sarah Tew/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Music can serve as a great motivator in a long workout at the gym, but it's a universally bad idea to use headphones during outdoor exercises, especially if you live in a big city with traffic and obstructions coming at you from all angles.

For cyclists and runners who still want to jam to a soundtrack, Panasonic introduces the RP-BTGS10 wireless headphones at CES with a unique take on sound transmission, using your cheekbones to deliver audio straight to your head.

Calling this device an "earphone" is a misnomer, since they actually sit on top of your head and reach down to the front of the ear canal, which leaves your ear open to receiving ambient sounds. They're inspired by military personnel and their comm. units, but Panasonic goes with Bluetooth wireless technology for universal access from smartphones and Bluetooth transmitters.

Unlike other athlete-friendly earbuds like the MEElectronics Sport-Fi S6, the Panasonic RP-BTGS10 doesn't offer the promise of superior fidelity or noise isolation; their intended application lies with anyone who needs to pay attention to the surroundings, be it in the office or on the road.

Though I haven't had the chance to judge their sonic reach using my own ears, I wouldn't assume audiophile performance based on prior experiences listening to other bone-conduction headphones.

This type of hearing device puts more emphasis on convenience and innovation rather than sound design--in fact, Panasonic also builds in a bone-conduction microphone into the RP-BTGS10 as well, letting you engage in a phone conversation using the same technology.

The Panasonic RP-BTGS10 will be available in a variety of colors this fall for an as-yet undisclosed price.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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