Dec 3, 2014 | By Alec

How’s your hearing? That’s not such a strange question as it might seem; statistically, quite a few people suffer from self-induced hearing difficulties, brought about by listening to way too loud music through your earplugs. And this isn’t something that just happens to the elderly either, as one study even suggests that one in five U.S. teens suffer from hearing loss caused by loud music through earplugs.

Fortunately, a new, 3D printed solution has just appeared on Indiegogo: the Cynaps Mint. It’s a solution both for avoiding hearing loss yourself, as for listening to music if you’ve already damaged your hearing. The Cynaps Mint can perhaps best be seen as a 3D printed mp3 player with a very unusual way of broadcasting sound: through your skull, rather than through your ears.

All different examples of effective usage of the Cynaps Mint

This technology relies on bone conduction, which refers to transferring sounds through the bone of your skull to your inner ear, or really through any solid surface. It’s a perfect sound technology for individuals who’ve damaged their ears in one way or another, as it simply allows them to listen to music again. It also happens to function very well as a hearing aid.

A company called Max Virtual (the site is just a preview page) has now used this broadcasting technology and made it into a very interesting headset. While their 3D printed Cynaps Mint does come with what looks like headphones, you don’t actually have to place them on your ears to perfectly hear music; you could put them on the back of your head if you’d like.

As they encouraged on their crowdfunding page: ‘Tweak it so it fits just right for you. The audio modules, called ‘transducers’, generate sound through vibration, and you can attach them in different ways to suit many different wearing styles. You can wear it classic or use the included clips to direct the wiring behind your head. Ladies can also wear it like a hairband, for discretion and comfort.’

The company has previously been prototyping a similar device that can be placed in hats or caps, and is perfect for people with hearing disorders. Their latest version, however, will function just like an iPod or mp3player operating through bluetooth, minus the damage to your ears. It also consists of 3D printed modular parts ,than are perfect for hackers that want to reassemble or alter their set up.

You can even place the ‘headphones’, which are probably best called transducers, on a table or on a sheet of glass, and broadcast music throughout the room. ‘Our transducers are so powerful, they’ll be able to fill a room (or house party) with your playlist and also add a special flavor to your music, depending on which surface you use.’

While this might just seem like a luxury toy, it creates a practical function aside from preventing damage to your ears. For it doesn’t drown out other noises; broadcasting music through your skull means you can still listen to traffic or voices around you. ‘Very useful and much safer than traditional earphones when biking, running and driving, as well as many other sports and outdoor activities like motorcycling or snowboarding. Stay connected, while staying in touch with the world around you.’

All this makes it a very cool, useful and even harmless product, that won’t even be that expensive. Pledging to their campaign can already get you a complete pair for as little as $69. In total, they hope to gather $20,000 with their Indiegogo campaign, that launched today. And this isn’t even such an unrealistic campaign, seeing as they still have almost two months to reach it (closing date 1 February).

But to entice their audience to pledge before that time, they’ve already come up with a very interesting campaign: pledge before the end of this week (for at least one set), and you get a personal choice of 1,000 color combinations for the Cynaps Mint. This is where 3D printing’s potential really kicks in; these options can be guaranteed because of the wide variety of 3D printed parts. And what’s more, you’ll get it by Christmas, rather than somewhere in the new year. As Mike Freeman, the company’s CEO, commented: ‘We’re going to just work like crazy to get as many of these things out by Christmas as we can, and we’ll keep the Christmas green light up on Indiegogo until we reach the time (or physical) limit to get those perks into those backers’ hands by Christmas.’ Isn’t that just awesome?

All in all, the Cynaps Mint is looking great. Not only is it 3D printable and very modular, it’s also offering a revolutionary and safe way of enjoying your music through just about anything! It sure is tempting to order myself a Christmas present…

For more information, check out this introductory clip on the Cynaps Mint:


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