EarpieceOnline answers: What’s a Covert Earpiece

A covert earpiece is a very small listening device that is often worn by someone who wishes to be able to wear an earpiece and not have it be visible. The advantage of such an earpiece is that the wearer is able to use it as a radio accessory and yet not have others be aware that they are using an earpiece to communicate with others. A covert earpiece is often referred to as either a surveillance earpiece or invisible earpiece and it is quite common for the likes of law enforcement officers on undercover assignments, security personnel, government agents, and also spies, both corporate and government to wear such a device while undertaking tasks that require privacy and secrecy.

While radio headsets are quite commonly used by people in many occupations to communicate with one another, the covert style of earpiece is usually reserved for occasions and circumstances that require sensitivity and privacy when communicating. Those personnel conducting surveillance and / or working in private security would most likely opt for this form of earpiece over a more visible style, allowing communication to occur without alerting others close by. There are many other examples where an invisible earpiece could be worn: attempting to cheat on an exam where the wearer would have someone else ‘feeding’ them the correct answers to the questions, or when trying to cheat a casino by having an unfair advantage over other players. In this last instance, such as at a poker table, the cheating player may have someone stand in an advantageous position on the opposite side of the table and provide information regarding the cards of the other players.

One industry in which the use of covert earpieces is quite common practice is on-air television. Newscasters, sportscasters, talk show hosts and even the weather presenter may all wear an invisible earpiece when live on air, allowing them to receive critical information or instruction without the viewers being aware. Engineers and producers have the ability to communicate with the on-air personalities while airing live and direct them as needed, to ensure that everything proceeds without a hitch. This is particularly helpful with live television where a re-take is not an option, or when a story may break during a news bulletin and the information can be fed immediately to the newscaster, who in turn will advise viewers of the late-breaking news. 

A covert earpiece can be beneficial for anyone making a public speech. The speaker can be directed by someone behind the scenes and even given cues to help them remember what to say next, all the while leaving the audience without any awareness of it happening. This is a common practice and can save a speaker from the embarrassing situation of a temporary loss of train of thought. A quick reminder via the earpiece and the speech can continue with any evidence of a slip. Prominent people such as politicians who are often subject to criticism of their public-speaking abilities can find being assisted via a covert earpiece ensures they do not make a newsworthy ‘blunder’.

There are covert earpieces that are designed for the wearer to receive communication only and then there are others that are designed with a microphone in them, allowing two-way communication. Those personnel responsible for ensuring security and / or conducting surveillance can discreetly communicate with each other, an essential asset for these types of tasks. The convenience of having a hands-free means of communicating is also advantageous, particularly when security personnel are blending in with the crowd and do not want anyone alerted to their presence.

A covert earpiece fits discreetly into the ear or sometimes on a pair of eyeglasses and has no visible wiring, and yet the wearer is able to hear clearly and distinctly everything being communicated to him or her. As the name suggests, it is designed to be invisible’ to anyone but the most observant person. While not completely invisible, most people are quite unaware that a person is wearing a covert earpiece. In some instances there may be a wire that is covered by a person’s collar. This is called an inductive wire and although its purpose is to be a sound modulator it is in fact a separate radio device and is not connected to the earpiece.

Where Do We Get The Word ‘Earpiece’ From?

The word ‘earpiece’ is obviously a joining of the words ‘ear’ and ‘piece’, the term was probably originally coined for eyeglasses at some point in the 18th century, but it also applies to things like old style phone receivers and doctor’s stethoscopes.

British optician Edward Scarlett is thought to have developed the first eyeglass earpieces sometime before 1727. However, this invention didn’t catch on until the early 19th century, so it is probable that the word ‘earpiece’ fell into popular use around that time.

For comparison, American inventor Nathaniel Baldwin built the first radio headphone set in 1919, almost a hundred years later. The basics of earpiece design have existed since that time, so the word ‘earpiece’ was almost certainly used at that point, although it would not have denoted the same device that we now think of today.

Bluetooth headsets, colloquially referred to as ‘earpieces’, were first made commercially available in the early 2000’s and since that time, the term has proliferated. By and large, in the 2010’s, the word ‘earpiece’ tends to refer less to headphones and earphones (although it is still technically accurate terminology) and increasingly solely denotes Bluetooth headsets.

As for the word itself, the word ‘ear’ is actually a derivation of the old English word ēare. It is derived from the same root word as the Norse word eyra and is also cognate with the German word ohr and the Latin auris.

The word ‘piece’ has been in use as far back as the 11th Century AD and comes from the Old French word pece (which is itself of ancient Gaulish origin). It probably also has linguistic ties to the ancient Welsh word peth (meaning ‘thing’).

In the future, it is likely that the word ‘earpiece’ will continue to refer to wearable technology until such time as the word exclusively denotes a wearable device. However, this is purely conjecture on our part.

The other uses for the word will likely remain standard English that simply isn’t used on a daily basis. An example of this would be words like ‘Sellotape’, ‘Tannoy’ and ‘Hoover’, all of which are brand names that do not denote the actual object in question. Correctly, a Hoover is a vacuum cleaner, a Tannoy is a public address system and Sellotape is sticky back plastic. However, almost nobody uses those terms anymore in a casual setting (Alan Partridge and the odd Blue Peter Presenter notwithstanding). 

Here’s a Brief History of Headphones

The basis of the post is to make you consider what in life is essential and what does getting the up-to-date headset really signify to us

During the past century, human ears have enjoyed less freedom than ever before, but more music, thanks to the invention of headphones. In 1910, a Nathaniel Baldwin invented headphones in the kitchen of his Utah home, forever subjecting our ears to the shackles of small speakers.

Aside from allowing you to furtively listen to the latest Carly Rae Jepsen single, headphones enable people to privately and individually interact with media, even when in a noisy room or a crowded subway. Headphones are also crucial tools used for recording music, and producing films, TV and radio programming.

Here is a timeline of how we’ve gone from Baldwin’s “Baldy Phones” to Apple’s earbuds EarPods and “Beats by Dre.”

1910: Nathaniel Baldwin Invents the First Headphones

The legend states that Lt. Comdr. A. J. Hepburn of the U.S. Navy received for prototype for a pair of telephones fashioned into a headset, along with a letter from Nathaniel Baldwin written with purple ink on blue and pink paper. After initially disregarding the message, Hepburn tested the device and found that it worked surprisingly well to transmit sound.

The Navy began to ask for more headphones from Baldwin, who could only accept orders of 10 at a time because he was producing them in his kitchen.

If it’s not evident from his choice of stationery and writing utensil, Baldwin was an interesting fellow. He was a fundamentalist Mormon who studied at Brigham Young Academy (later renamed Brigham Young University), and eventually earned an electrical engineering degree from Stanford.

He returned to BYU as a professor but was fired for speaking out in favor of polygamy, a practice which the Mormon Church renounced in 1890. (Though he endorsed polygamy, he had only one wife.)

Original Koss SP3 Headphones1958: John C. Koss Introduces SP3 Stereophones, Made For Music

Until this point, people used headphones almost exclusively for radio communication.

John Koss was born and raised in Wisconsin. He got married in 1952, at which time he started a business using a cash wedding gift with which him and his bride were supposed to buy a sofa, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society.

While introducing a portable phonograph he wanted to rent to patients in Milwaukee hospitals, he revealed the original Koss SP3 Stereophones. Initially intended to be a sidebar, the headphones proved revolutionary because their sound quality made them optimal for listening to music. The Koss Corporation, located in Milwaukee, is still making headphones today.

1979: Sony Releases ‘Walkman,’ Headphones Go on a Diet

Before portable music players, headphones tended to be big. Baldwin’s original set weighed upwards of a pound.

Koss’ stereophones were circumaural, meaning the earpads would literally engulf your ears. It made sense at the time. “Audiophiles” could listen to the latest Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin albums in the comfort of their homes, and the bulbus design of their headphones helped to block outside noise.

With the help of the Sony “Walkman,” recorded music soon liberated itself from the home stereo, creating a need for more portable headphones. Conveniently, a lightweight set of MDR-3L2 headphones was included with the portable cassette player. As opposed to Koss’ circumaural headphones, Sony’s were supra-aural, meaning the earpads pressed against the ears.

 

 

1989: Dr. Amar Bose Introduces the First Noise-Reducing Headset

On a flight home from Zurich in 1978, Dr. Amar Bose tried an early set of electronic headphones that were newly onboard for passenger entertainment — but he could barely hear anything with the overwhelming cabin noise. He returned to Boston and set up a research program at Bose Corporation (which he founded in 1964), to investigate how ambient noise could be reduced with active noise cancellation. The Noise Reduction Technology Group (NRTG) grew out of that program, and in 1989, the company introduced the first noise-reduction headset, designed for the aviation industry.

2001: Apple iPod Includes Earbuds, Which Now Total 600 Million

The trend towards smaller and more portable headphones eventually led to earbuds and in-earphones, which only differ in the degree to which they wedge into the ear canal.

In 2001, Apple introduced the iPod to the world. The iPod, and later iPhone and iPad, comes with a now-iconic set of basic white earbuds. A decade later, iPod sales have topped 300 million. Begin to do the math, totaling sales of iPods, iPhones and iPads, and you begin to realize there are an astronomical number of Apple earbuds in circulation.

During the announcement of a long-awaited upgrade the company’s stock headset at the iPhone 5 unveiling on Sept. 12, Apple said that it had shipped 600 million sets of the first generation of earbuds — that’s roughly one for every 12 people on the planet. Regardless of your opinion on the quality of the product, those earbuds get around.

2008: Beats by Dr. Dre Hits the Market

Hip hop artist and producer Dr. Dre teamed up with Interscope Chairman Jimmy Iovine to launch Beats by Dr. Dre, helping to solidifying headphones as a fashion statement. The brand has recruited celebrities, including Will.i.am, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Lebron James, to endorse the products. Today, Beats by Dr. Dre has 63% market share in U.S. for headphones priced over $100.

2011: Sennheiser Sells $40,000 Orpheus Headphones, World’s Most Expensive

At an audio show in Seoul, South Korea, the German headphone company Sennheiser unveiled the world’s most expensive headphones. The company released 300 sets of the Orpheus headphones, which were priced at 30,000 Euros, or roughly $41,000 a piece.

If you’re still on the fence about making that big of an investment, try them out with the following video.

2012: Apple Redefines Earbuds with the EarPods

The launch of the iPhone 5 ushered in a new era of headphone design — the EarPod. The periscope-like headphones are designed to direct sound right into the ear, and they hold up pretty well.


Headphones have come a long way in the past 100 years, revolutionizing the way we consume media and the way we communicate. In addition to sets that transmit with extremely high fidelity, other notable advancements include wireless headphones, Bluetooth headsets and headsets that include a microphone which can be connected to telephones or computers.

As portable media consumption continues to rise with smartphones and tablets, the need for headphones will be greater than ever.

Source – http://mashable.com/2012/09/26/headphones/

What Is Covert Surveillance?

The basis of this post is to make you think about what in life is significant and what does getting the up-to-date earpiece really mean to people

Covert surveillance occurs when someone or something is being observed without knowledge. People who are under surveillance are most often under suspicion. Locations and buildings are primarily observed because of suspicious activity or to obtain information about a suspect.

covert surveillance Covert surveillance is generally performed by government agencies, private investigators or business owners. Intelligence organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States and the United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service, also called MI6, participate in surveillance to obtain information for national security interests such as counter terrorism. Law enforcement agencies such as the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) also perform surveillance. They concentrate on observing suspected criminals.

Private investigators perform covert surveillance for a variety of reasons. Husbands and wives hire private investigators to prove or disprove suspected infidelity. Businesses hire private investigators to observe employees who are suspected of fraudulent activities or former employees that may be breaking confidentiality agreements. Insurance companies are notorious for using private investigators to put claimants under surveillance to ensure they are not submitting a fraudulent claim.

Many business owners participate in covert surveillance of their employees and customers. Observing employees while they are working gives business owners valuable information, such as employee production and employee theft. Covertly observing customers can aid in marketing and research efforts and most importantly account for loss due to theft in retail businesses. Retail businesses can also use information obtained through covert surveillance to prosecute shoplifters.

A surveillance operation may be carried out in a number of ways. Agency employees and private investigators may choose to observe a subject without the aid of sophisticated technology, using things such as binoculars and cameras. However, in an age of modern technological conveniences, it is safer, cheaper and more convenient to use surveillance equipment.

Closed circuit television systems (CCTV) are one of the most popular ways to carry out covert surveillance. Cameras come in all sizes and can be placed inconspicuously almost anywhere. In order to obtain audio, wire taps can be placed on phones or audio surveillance equipment may be hidden in a suspect’s office, home or vehicle. Other ways to perform covert surveillance include aerial surveillance and the use of global positioning systems (GPS). A GPS placed on a person or moving vehicle can be tracked to monitor movement to specific locations. Similarly, aerial surveillance carried out by national governments can track objects on the ground.

 

How does bone conduction work?

Bone conduction headphones (commonly referred to as ‘Bonephones’) are actually really clever. In order to best explain how they work, I’ll need to take you on a journey into the Human ear…

No, not literally. That would be disgusting.

OK, so you know how sound travels through the air? Surely you must have done that science experiment at school where you hear sound disappearing into an airless vacuum? Yup, it’s just like that.

Anyway, the sound waves come into contact with your outer ear structure, or pinna. Then, the sounds pass into your middle ear, which is filled with air (obviously). The sound travels through your auditory canal and then your eardrum. Your eardrum then vibrates, an action that passes the sound to your ossicles.

Now, the ossicles are three tiny little inner-ear bones and their job is to translate the sound to the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure that in turn ‘encodes’ the sounds in order for our brains to ‘decode’ and process them.

It’s actually quite a ride, when you think about it.

So, bone conduction headphones bypass the pinna, the auditory canal and the eardrum and take the vibrations directly to your ossicles, quite literally rattling your bones. From there, the ossicles transmit to the cochlea and the process carries on as usual.

That’s basically it.

It is actually a good way to listen to music if you have hearing problems and it has the added bonus of being effective whilst the listener has earplugs in, or even when he/she is underwater.

I had my doubts about the safety of this technology when it was first announced, but it has been out a while now and has been pronounced as safe by medical experts. In all probability, bone conduction is actually better for your ears than regular headphones are.

To quote, um, myself, in an article I published a few months ago:

“According to recent studies, exposure to any noise over 100 decibels wears away a membrane known as the myelin sheath and leaves your inner ear susceptible to problems like tinnitus and temporary deafness, which can be the beginning of even more serious problems. Bone conduction technology has been designed to bypass the most sensitive portions of your ear and reduce the risk of inner-ear damage”. 

Get a Motorola cp040 earpiece for the finest price

Previously, we checked out an earpiece expressly created to work on the Motorola gp340 two way radio series. Now, we will be investigating the CP040 earpiece, an inexpensive and versatile little doohickey that is amazingly exciting, but additionally does little to damage one’s bank account.

The Motorola cp040 earpiece is much like the Motorola gp300 earpiece. It’s tiny, clever and cheap, however it also represents pretty good value for money. EarpieceOnline lists this earpiece for about £11.50, but it’s a pretty good buy for the cost.

How to waterproof headphones?

Asked by Betty from Hammersmith

I take it you’re a newer reader and you therefore aren’t aware of my dislike for recommending specific sets of headphones. In a usual case, (like when one reader asked me to recommend sweat-proof headphones) I have to answer with “it depends on a multitude of factors, such as how often you use them, how important sound quality is to you or even (in that one case) how much you tend to sweat. However, I’m not going to let you down, Betty, because waterproof headphones are actually a bit different…

Get a Motorola DP2400 earpiece for the best price

Well, dear readers, here it really is, the final of our five-part series on 2 way radio earpieces.

We’ve thrown totally random pop-culture suggestions at you (everything from ‘Wacky Races’ to 007 himself) and we’ve (hopefully) had a number of laughs amongst all the dry details and statistics. If you’ve read all of these items thus far, then thanks, we value your time.

OK, so the last item on our list is the Dp2400 earpiece, which could the costliest earpiece we have viewed thus far, albeit by only £2. The Motorola dp2400 earpiece, then, (for those amongst you who have not been keeping count) could be purchased from Earpieceonline for £29.75.

Peterson: Earpiece comes in handy for hands-free phone

When it comes to bluetooth earphones, the tech has not changed much since early 2000’s. They have basically got a little smaller, maintaining with modern incarnations of mobile phone. This article highlights new laws and regulations introduced in the United states about driving and using a mobile phone.

 

The last time I remember being hands free was when I was in high school, riding my bicycle hands free.

No hands on the handlebars while I bicycled with my golf clubs to Green Acres – no kidding – Country Club in Donnellson, Iowa. My 10-speed was a marvel in balance. It certainly helped that Donnellson was flat and the streets well-paved, as well as completely lacking in traffic.

Why isn’t there a Dick Tracy style radio wristwatch on the market? (Asked by Nadia from Los Angeles, California)

(Asked by Nadia from Los Angeles, California)

Before I answer your question, I have a question for you; what’s the weather like in the City of Angels?

Because right now, as I type this from my home in the UK, its bloody freezing and if it’s warmer where you are, then I think I may have to answer your question in person!

Just kidding.

On to your question, does it matter if the watch isn’t ‘Dick Tracy’ branded? Because if that’s what you’re after, then I’m sorry to say that, to the best of my knowledge at least, a ‘Dick Tracy’ branded two-way radio wristwatch doesn’t exist. If/when they make another DT movie (the last time they did, I was a little boy and I had the promotional T-shirt, so we must be due for one), then it seems likely that they will make one.