A High Tech Phone, Right Down To The Bone

When is a telephone handset not a handset? When the whole thing fits in your ear. That's the device Jabra Corp. in San Diego will unveil on Oct. 15. Called the Jabra 1000 ear-bud phone, it resembles those tiny in-ear speakers that let you listen to a Walkman in private--except that Jabra's unit is a transmitter as well. It picks up your voice by amplifying sound vibrations in your bones. So there's no microphone boom to jut out in front of your face.

Since the bone vibrations must be amplified, a special chip in the part of the system that connects to the base of your phone uses noise-cancellation technology to screen out background sounds. This antinoise chip generates a mirror image ef outside noises, and the colliding sound waves erase each other. The main electronics package--about the size of a deck of cards--also monitors the quality of the phone line and automatically raises the volume of voice transmissions when the connection is weak. This tech-talk ain't cheap: The ear-bud phone will list for $329.

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