Sony's new headphones will let you hear without using your ears

Sony new headphone Concept N

When bluetooth headsets for hands free talk first came out, I remember thinking millions of people had gone crazy because people appeared to be talking to themselves. It wasn't until they'd get closer to me, or turn their head, that I'd see a tiny bluetooth headset in their ear confirming that they were not crazy.

Imagine wearing headphones that don't go in or over your ears and you are the only person that can hear them. People are going to be headbanging to music that we can't hear while having nothing visible in their ears. Have you ever driven by somebody that was standing on the side of the road and was swinging their hands around like they were having a seizure only to be swatting at a bee? That's what these headphones will be like..

Enter Sony's code name Concept N headphones.

sony concept N headphones

Sony's newly formed R&D outfit, Future Lab, is here at SXSW to show off its first concept prototype: a pair of headphones worn around the neck that direct audio upwards so only you can hear it. Codenamed Concept N, the Bluetooth device takes the design of those wacky-looking neck-worn headphones and packs in multi-directional speakers so you can listen to music without buds or over-the-ear pads.

Sony, which became an industry giant thanks in part to its pioneering audio technology, is trying to reimagine headphones for a world with too many sounds. The idea behind N is to create a system for listening while trying to retain background noise for when you're wandering about outside or riding your bike. The device also comes with an accompanying pair of cone-shaped ear pieces that communicate with the neckband, in the event you want a more traditional headphone-like experience. The buds, with holes punched through the middle, don't block outside noises, so you're still able to, say, hold a conversation while listening to music.