Introduction: TfCD Assignment 2: Bone Conducting Speakers

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As part of assignment 2 for the course ‘Technology for Concept Design’, we investigated bone conduction as an 'emerging' technology. Bone conduction itself isn’t a new technology. As early as 1550 it was described by Girolamo Cardano, a physician and mathematician, as a method by which sound was transmitted to the ear by means of a rod or shaft. What's new is that these days bone conduction is being implemented in consumer goods such as hearing aids and headphones.

There are several simple ways that bone conduction can be prototyped to evaluate the sensation of hearing sound via bone conduction. This guide shows the comparison of two of these.

Step 1: The Different Parts

Picture of The Different Parts

The parts needed for this evaluation are:

  • an audio source
  • a pair of working earphones (which can be destroyed)
  • a DC motor
  • a piezoelectric element
  • two sets of crocodile cables
  • a wire stripper (or cutter)
  • a lighter

Step 2: Cut Off the Earphones

Picture of Cut Off the Earphones

Say goodbye to your earphones and cut off both the left and right earphone.

Step 3: Strip the Cables of the Earphones

Picture of Strip the Cables of the Earphones

Use your wire stripper to strip the isolation cover to expose the copper wires.

Step 4: Remove Coating of Copper Wires Using a Lighter

Each earphone has two wires connected to it and the wires likely have some coating on them. In this case one earphone had a blue coated wire and a clear copper wire and the other earphone had a green coated wire as well as a clear copper wire.

Run the wires through an open flame from your lighter to burn off the coating in order to ensure proper conduction of electricity. There may also be some thread that can also be burned off since it may be difficult to separate from the fine wires otherwise.

Step 5: Connect Copper Wires to Each Other

Picture of Connect Copper Wires to Each Other

Intertwine the (previously) blue and the green coated wires together. Then do the same for both the clear coated ones.

Step 6: Attach Crocodile Clips to Wires

Picture of Attach Crocodile Clips to Wires

Attach the two crocodile clips to the intertwined wires. Make sure the metal of the crocodile clip and the wires are touching, in order to ensure conduction.

Step 7: Attach Crocodile Clips to Piezoelectric Element

Picture of Attach Crocodile Clips to Piezoelectric Element

Attach the two crocodile clips to the wires of the piezoelectric element. It doesn’t matter which cable is connected to which wires, as long as the metal of the crocodile clip and the wires are touching, in order to ensure a connection.

Step 8: Insert Earphone Connector Into the Audio Source

Picture of Insert Earphone Connector Into the Audio Source

Plug the earphone connector in the audio source to be able to send audio to the piezoelectric element.

Step 9: Test Bone Conduction With the Piezoelectic Element

Softly bite on the piezoelectric element or hold it your ear to hear the audio.

Step 10: Move Crocodile Clips From Piezoelectric Element to DC Motor

Picture of Move Crocodile Clips From Piezoelectric Element to DC Motor

Detach the two crocodile clips from the piezoelectric element and attach them to the wires of the DC motor. It doesn’t matter which cable is connected to which wires, as long as the metal of the crocodile clip and the wires are touching, in order to ensure a connection.

Step 11: Test Bone Conduction With the DC Motor

Softly bite on the shaft of the DC motor or hold it your ear to hear the audio.

Step 12: Evaluation

The DC motor worked better than the piezoelectric element. Especially when biting the shaft. Both would likely be helped by connecting a small amplifier after the audio source to create stronger vibrations.

Comments

ThomasK19 (author)2016-12-21

Actually when I read the title I was intrigued by the thought of current running through bones xD

Swansong (author)2016-12-21

That's an interesting experiment :) It would be cool to see a video of how it works!

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