Sony wireless headphones: Music from the body

Uses body electricity to transmit through human flesh

The problems with developing a decent pair of wireless headphones are numerous.

For a start, using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signals to transmit the music from the source to the headphones drains an uncomfortable amount of battery life. FM transmissions carry the same problems, and are also illegal, at least until 8 December.

The other obvious problem is that wireless earbuds in particular would be incredibly easy to lose. Then comes the problems with static and other interference. However, Sony thinks it has the answer to at least some of these problems.

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The solution

The Japanese giant has patented a method of transmitting sound signals through a person's body, from an MP3 player in a pocket to wireless earphones up-top.

A fluctuating signal is sent from the music player to a conductive cloth which slightly charges the wearer's body. A pair of conductive pads in the headphones pick up the signal and convert it back into sound. Only a very low charge is used, so there's no risk to the user - and no tingling either.

It's been reported on some sites that the system can deliver audio at 48 kilobytes per second. However, a quick glance at the patent in question reveals that the figure is actually 48Kbit/s - kilobits per second - which is far lower and less than half the bit rate of standard MP3 files.

However, the technology could prove a starting point for more high-quality offerings in the future. James Rivington