New earphone technology gives pause for thought

If you use discreet in-ear headphones on your travels, you probably know the following scene all too well:

Somebody comes up and starts talking to you, or you need to talk to a bus driver to sort out your fare, and as you pull your headphones out, you’re left with the choice of rifling through your pocket to hit pause (all the while holding up a hand to stop the other person talking until you are done), or completing your conversation and then fiddling about trying to rewind the music or podcast to the point where you stopped listening.

Sure, that’s not the biggest problem facing civilization today. But it’s good to know that one firm has produced something close to a solution.

After hyping an announcement it said would “change the way you listen to music forever”, Sony has unleashed what it’s billing as the world’s first motion-controlled earphones.

The MH907 earphones, which only work with Sony Ericsson phones, include motion sensors. When you put both earphones into your ears, the phone’s music player automatically starts up. However, if you then take one earphone out, the music pauses until you replace it.

The same system works for answering and ending phone calls, so if you are listening to music when you receive a call, simply pull out an earphone and replace it to switch from music to voice call.

One reviewer who’s tried out the earphones says it was a surprisingly effective system, to the point that he started using the phone as his main music player.

At this stage, however, it seems unlikely many people will get as far as trying the earphones: the type of listener who’d pay the $57 these are going for is probably unlikely to be willing to use a phone for listening to music. However, if the technology catches on, it’s not hard to imagine similar headphones selling well among owners of more expensive portable media players.

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