'SOFT' HELMET SPEAKERS ANNOUNCED IN JAPAN.
November 21 2005.
Software developer Nippon MMI Technology Inc. has developed a bone-conduction speaker that can be fitted into a motorcycle helmet for safe enjoyment of music while driving.
Motorcycle helmets equipped with bone-conduction speakers typically connect to portable music players. They are already popular in South Korea, but these speakers are based on electromagnetic coils and fail to meet safety standards of helmet makers in Japan because the materials are hard and could puncture the head in an accident.
The company's new bone-conduction speaker is based on a piezoelectric ceramic. It is about a third of the thickness of a typical electromagnetic-coil speaker and is supple, so less of a danger. Japan's leading motorcycle helmet makers have approved it, and sales are set to begin next spring.
The company will price the speaker at about 6,000 yen. The units will be sold separately for motorcyclists to attach to their helmets, and also as units integrated into new helmets.
Sales will begin in Japan and South Korea, but negotiations with helmet makers in Italy and the U.S. are underway.
The bone-conduction speaker can also function as a microphone, so attaching a phone or transceiver allows the driver to talk with the passenger when two are riding the bike.

Source: The Nikkei Business Daily