Panasonic just unveiled the newest addition to its headphone lineup at CES today: a set of bone-conduction headphones. They're billed as working well for the hard of hearing, but that's a bit misleading, as you still need your inner ear in fine working order for them to work.
Of course, specs on this model are going to be largely irrelevant until we get some sort of picture as to how much juice these are able to jolt your inner ear with. Consequently, there's nothing to report on that front. Stay tuned, though, because these headphones may be part of a larger trend towards this new music-consumption technology.
Bone-conduction headphones are a lot like in-ears in that they actively bypass some of your auditory system (pinna, ear canal), but unlike in-ears, they also bypass your ear drum by conducting vibrations through your skull and into your inner ear. Once the vibrations reach your malleus, incus, and stapes, sounds then follow the same process as they would from any other headphone.
While we haven't seen a ton of these headphones yet, they may or may not see more popularity in the coming years as more and more people experiment with them. So far, there hasn't been much medical research or other inquiry as to the long-term effects or performance of this type of headphone, but as soon as there is, we'll tell you about it.