You may be asking yourself: how has no one put sunglasses and bone conducting headphones together already? Well, they actually have (remember the Buhel SoundGlasses?), but no one has yet made the breakthrough pair of sunglasses with built-in bone conducting headphones the world needs. A company by the name of Zungle is trying to rectify that problem with their new Panther sunglasses, which also have interchangeable lenses the exact same size as Oakley Frogskins.
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The swappable lenses are actually the crux of the Zungle Panther. As mentioned above, there are already several pairs of bone-conducting sunglasses on Amazon, but none with the same customization potential as the Zungle Panther. Tapping into a popular accessories market like Oakley’s (and copying the basic design of the Frogskins) is a pretty clever way to reach an existing audience, as long as you don’t get sued in the process.
The Panther’s definitely have the look down pat, but what about the tech? They feature a pair of bone conducting speakers and a jog wheel for controlling audio playback. At just 45 grams (lighter than a pair of Wayfarers), the Zungle Panther packs a replaceable 300 mAh battery that’ll get you four hours of playback over a Bluetooth 4.1 connection. The battery is recharged through a hidden microUSB charging port in the hinge area.
Because your ears are left open you can safely wear these on a bike and still be aware of your surroundings. They also have a built-in noise-cancelling microphone so you can make and receive calls on the fly, but no one else will be able to hear your music or conversation. There’s no denying they are slightly on the bulky side – kind of like a pair of 3D glasses from the cinema – but if you can live with that then these are definitely worth a look. Or should I say listen? Here’s how bone conduction works.
The Zungle Panther has already raised more than triple its original $50K funding goal on Kickstarter and still has 25 days to go in its funding campaign, achieving its original goal in just 18 hours. The Zungle Panthers will retail for $150 but you can still sign up for a $99 Early Bird pack which includes a pair of Zungle panthers in matte black, white, gray, pink or green. They will ship in November 2016. The $100K stretch goal was to replace the jog wheel with a touchpad and if Zungle makes $200K they’ll make them waterproof too.
Have you tried bone conducting headphones before? Do you think this will become popular?