Though there are many advantages that a bike can offer over a car ride, listening to music has always favored the motorist. While one can play tracks from the car’s stereo and still maintain a vigilant ear for the road, headphones are the only option a biker can muster, and an obviously dangerous one at that.
Instead of playing music into your ears, the Safe + Sound headphones use bone conduction to play the audio through your cheekbones, leaving the ears free to hear the road.
But the desire to pair sound with a safe bicycle ride is the kind of challenge that drives designers like Gemma Roper to innovate, and with her latest product she may have changed the game for good. Dubbed the Safe + Sound, the London-based designer has tailored a pair of modular headphones to the needs of a cautious cyclist by taking advantage of the physics of sound itself. Instead of playing music into your ears, the Safe + Sound headphones use bone conduction to play the audio through your cheekbones, leaving the ears free to hear the road. The modules that transmit the vibrations are similar to what drive regular over-the-ear headphones, and clip onto the straps of any standard cycling helmet securely (adding another reason for always wearing one). But instead of making these headphones only functional while in transit, Roper has cleverly made them part of a flexible system, and when on foot the modules can be slid into ear pads and attached to a head strap for a more conventional listening experience. When in this state, the headphones offer an immersive sound with a stylish retro appeal, as the whole assembly makes use of streamlined geometry to provide only the essential elements. The play between these two forms never diminishes the quality of the sound, and extends it to a mode of transportation that for years had gone without the pleasures of music. So just as a long car ride can be made joyful with your favorite album on repeat, now too can a leisurely bike ride be made an adventure with your iTunes on shuffle. And since the headphones let you still hear the cues of traffic with no drawbacks, it can happen in a form that keeps you both Safe + Sound.