Whilst wearing earplugs, does a bone conduction headset still work?

You can find no explanation why not. The key parts of your ears are, essentially, aloof from the hearing procedure when  ‘Bonephones’.

A bone conduction earpiece is a conveyable speaker system manufactured to bypass various sensitive parts of the ear so as to decrease the risk of hearing loss. Based on recent studies, any noise over 100 noise causes hearing troubles like tinnitus and short-term deafness, even resulting in permanent harm. Your average iPod can reach sounds as high as 115 decibels within the US, but here in the UK, special software restricts most appliances to about 100db.

Anyway, a bone conducting headset (a technology occasionally known as ‘Bonephones’) could be the best method to play your songs securely. Patrick J. Kiger of How Stuff Works.com writes the science behind ‘Bonephones’.

“To understand how bone conduction works, you first have to understand how we hear sounds, which we do in two ways: Sound travels in waves through the air. Normally, sound waves travel through several structures in the ear, before being translated and transmitted through our nervous systems to our brains. First, the waves enter the outer ear, or pinna, which is the big flappy piece of cartilage that helps to focus the sound. From there, the sound goes into the air-filled middle ear, which includes the auditory canal and the eardrum, a flap of skin that vibrates when exposed to the energy from sound waves. On the other side of the eardrum, there are three small bones, the ossicles, which are attached to it. They transmit the vibration to the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure that takes those vibrations and converts them to electrical impulses that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain. But that’s not the only way our body can process sound. Sound waves can also be transmitted through the bones in your head. When the bones vibrate, the sound reaches the cochlea, just as it would by going through the middle ear and eardrum, and results in the same sort of nerve impulses being transmitted to your brain. This method of sound transmission is called bone conduction”

According to Kiger, the great composer Beethoven employed a sort of prototype version of this method. By attaching a rod both to his piano and to his skull, he could ‘hear’ the music he was producing, an innovative result that shares the same essential principle with bone conduction.

‘Bonephones’ should haven’t any effect whatsoever on whether or not a user is wearing earplugs or not, as the portion of the ear that’s ‘plugged’ is not in reality in use.

My own individual reservations concerned the security to that user of these new headphones, but Kiger affirms this,

“Deborah Price, a doctor of audiology and vice-chair of the Audiology Foundation of America, told Wired in 2004 that bone conduction is “very safe”

Moreover, ‘Bonephones’ are specially good for the good for the visually impaired user, who might need to play music, audiobooks or other content without having to hide their ears.

The tech continues to be comparatively new, but in the meanwhile it seems to be perfectly safe and generally in a position to match the basic capabilities of a standard pair of earbuds, although questions remain concerning the degree of audio quality achieved via this system.