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Bone Conduction Technology: The Early Days

So, in our last post, I talked about how German conducter and composer Ludwig van Beethoven used bone conduction technology to overcome hearing loss, and to hear his own music as he grew deaf over his lifetime.

But Beethoven wasn't the first to know of the wonders of bone conduction technology. In today's post, we'll go a little deeper into the history of bone conduction technology 

From what is known, it seems that it was during the early 1500s when bone conduction was first being studied. This included anatomical studies by Belgian Andries van Wesel (1515-1564) and Italians Gabriel Fallopius (1523-1562), and Bartolomeo Eustachi (died 1574) and early experimental physiological studies.

There are two claimants to have first described bone conduction technology: Girolamo Cardano, who was a physician, mathematician, and Girolama Cardamaphilosopher (1501-1576). In “De Subtilitate,” (1550) he described a method by which sound was transmitted to the ear by means of a rod, or the shaft of a spear held between one’s teeth. This first description has also been attributable to Ingrassia (1510-1580), a student of Vesalius.

Later, Hieronymus Capivacci and others (died 1589) used bone conduction technology to diagnose what kind of hearing disorder people had. He connected the teeth of his patients with the strings of a zither by means of an iron rod about two feet long. If a patient heard nothing by this method, he determined that the patient had a lesion on the auditory nerve.

A further advance in bone conduction technology came in 1711, when John Shore developed the tuning fork. Shore, a trumpeter and lute player to the English king, used this technology musical purposes.

Despite this early research on and use of bone conduction technology, research and use of this technology languished. It had to wait to be re-discovered and gradually accepted only during the 19th century.

Source: Hearing and Health Matters