Bits & Bytes
SAY WHAT? A PHONE THAT LETS YOU SPEAK THROUGH THE DIN
Have you ever tried to make a phone call from a busy airport, but the background noise drowned you out? Norris Communications Corp. in Poway, Calif., says it knows how to eliminate such interference. The Norris Ear Phone is a combination "mouthpiece" and earpiece that fits into the ear like a hearing aid. The Norris microphone picks up only sounds traveling to the earpiece through the speaker's jawbone and mouth tissue and nothing else--even if someone is shouting just inches away.
Who needs such a phone? Apple Computer Inc., for one. The PC maker plans to demonstrate Norris phones with Macintosh notebook computers at a software developers conference, starting on May 11. Besides suppressing background noise, the Norris device keeps the speaker's hands free. Bell Atlantic Corp. and Ticketmaster Corp. are also interested. Operators at those companies are testing a cheaper version of the Norris one-piece phone that picks up sound through the air instead of the jawbone. That version is scheduled for release in June and the bone-conduction model will be available next January, Norris says. Both are expected to be priced under $150.EDITED BY EVAN I. SCHWARTZ