Active ear defenders get Bluetooth connection

Hearing protection specialist NoiseBuster has added a Bluetooth module to its range of noise-cancelling ear defenders, allowing wearers to connect to mobile phones, MP3 players and other audio gadgets.

Most business travellers will be familiar with noise-cancelling headphones. The technology, which picks up external noise with a microphone and generates an equal and opposite anti-noise signal, so the wearer hears only their music or phone call, is now widely available.

What might be less well known is that much the same active noise reduction (ANR) technology is also being applied to passive ear defenders of the sort worn in factories, on building sites and even by shooters. In these applications, the ANR filtering can add up to 20dB of extra low-frequency noise reduction in the 20-800Hz bandwidth without making it harder for the wearer to understand elements such as speech - so you can still hear a warning shout, say.

Many ear defenders now include built in speakers and microphones, and some even include complete radios. NoiseBuster has taken advantage of the 3.5mm jack socket that its ANR ear-muffs already include for audio connections to plug in an external stereo Bluetooth adapter.

The company said that the clip-on $89.95 Bluetooth module delivers up to six hours of talk time, five hours of music and has a standby time of 140 hours. It weighs just 12g, has a 10m range, and can be recharged via a PC USB port or a mains adapter.

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