Does Bluetooth Work Underwater?
Living in a world full of ever-changing technology and constant technological advances, we are always on the lookout for ways to improve our daily lives. One area in which this is especially true is how we listen to music, podcasts, and other media.
In this day and age, Bluetooth technology has become synonymous with wireless connectivity and our ability to listen to our favorite music pretty much anywhere. Bluetooth has drastically changed how we think about enjoying music and communicating with others.
However, for water enthusiasts and avid swimmers, the ability to listen to music while engaging in their favorite aqua activities is not quite as simple as it is for land dwellers. Bluetooth technology is notoriously unreliable when it comes to underwater transmission.
In this article, we will do a deep dive into the specifics of underwater sound technology, the advantages and disadvantages of Bluetooth, and the alternatives for those who want to enhance their daily swim with their favorite tunes.
What Is Bluetooth, and How Does It Work?
Before we examine Bluetooth’s benefits and limitations, let’s look at how it works. Bluetooth technology relies on short-range radio frequency to allow devices to communicate with one another.
When you use Bluetooth headphones, you connect your chosen device to those headphones, and the radio waves make it possible for two very different types of devices to “talk” to each other. Obviously, this type of technology comes with some limitations.
You may have noticed that if your phone is connected to your speaker, but you wander a certain distance, the connectivity cuts out. This is the most notable limitation of Bluetooth technology: it relies on fairly close proximity to function. This is one reason why it often doesn’t work well underwater.
Why Would You Need To Listen to Music Underwater?
Contrary to popular belief, there is a huge faction of athletes and weekend warriors alike who want to be able to listen to music or a podcast while they swim. There’s also evidence that it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Music can help with motivation, especially for those who view swimming as a workout. It can help swimmers push through a plateau or find the strength they need to make it through those last few laps. In fact, it can even aid in focus and clarity.
Music can even enhance your performance by helping you to stay in rhythm with the beat of your music. There is ample evidence to suggest that music during a workout cannot only motivate but also actually help improve your performance.
Last but certainly not least, music can be a significant mood enhancer. Music can help us to feel better in general, and when combined with the additional mood-boosting benefits of exercise, it can pack a serious punch.
Why Doesn’t Bluetooth Always Work Underwater?
Here, we can’t blame Bluetooth altogether. It was never actually designed to be used underwater due to the type of radio frequencies it uses to function.
Let’s get technical for a moment: BT technology uses 2.4 GHz radio frequency, which simply does not work well in water. Those pesky laws of physics and how water molecules receive those frequencies make it difficult, if not impossible, to use BT underwater.
Water has the unique property of absorbing radio frequencies, rendering them ineffective when it comes to getting two devices to communicate. As BT signals encounter the water, they rapidly lose strength, which significantly reduces range and reliability.
While you may be able to walk all around your upstairs with your wireless earbuds in and your phone downstairs on the kitchen table, the same BT frequencies would have little to no range if they had to traverse water.
This gap in functionality creates the necessity for new technologies to emerge. As always, necessity breeds innovation. We at Zygo are changing the game when it comes to underwater listening technology, and we’re just getting started.
What Has Zygo Done To Bridge the Gap?
In order to combat the limitations of BT technology, Zygo has come up with a state-of-the-art solution: a transmitter that bridges the gap and helps to pick up where Bluetooth leaves off. The transmitter can sit right on the edge of the pool as it connects with your device's Bluetooth and uses radio frequencies to transmit to the connected headset.
Sure, some phones are waterproof (or at least water resistant), but many don’t want to take the risk of bringing their expensive devices underwater if there are viable alternatives. For those swimming competitively or for time, having a phone on an armband can be detrimental to their goals.
An additional benefit of the transmitter system is that it has additional functionality beyond merely listening to your favorite workout playlist while doing your laps. The unique headset can transmit live speech with the walkie-talking feature. Imagine the benefits of swim coaches being able to communicate from the pool deck in real-time with their athletes as they swim.
Making Waves in the Industry: The Zygo Headset
Speaking of the corresponding headset, let’s get into the specifications of this marvel of modern technology. Zygo provides a solution that people have been looking for when it comes to underwater audio.
These underwater headphones connect to the transmitter and allow any app or service you can listen to on your phone to be utilized under the water. The setup is just about as simple as setting up typical Bluetooth headphones, and once you get them going, they’re just as user-friendly.
They will automatically connect to the transmitter when turned on. There’s even an app to help you get going. The whole process is incredibly user friendly, and easy to master.
From the wearer’s perspective, once the transmitter and the headphones are connected, it feels like a typical wireless headset. Any audio played from a device such as a smartphone will start playing through the headphones instantaneously.
How Do Underwater Headphones Work?
Those who aren’t in the know may initially wonder how it’s even possible to listen to headphones underwater, given our knowledge of speaker and headphone technology. The simple answer is that underwater headphones and earbuds function completely differently from traditional headphones.
This is due to the magic of Bone Conduction Technology (BCT). Well, it’s not actually magic, but it certainly is impressive scientific technology. BCT headphones transmit sound via vibrations on the bones of the head and the jaw of the wearer.
This is a far cry from traditional headphones, which rely on speakers that rest in the ears, so it can be hard to envision how they actually work. Essentially, the sounds emanating from these headphones bypass the eardrum altogether and relay the sounds directly into the inner ear.
Bone conduction headphones don’t touch the ear at all. They sit on the outside of the ear, which allows ambient sound to be heard.
With headphones like Zygo’s, the wearer can experience a full surround sound experience they never would have thought possible underwater. With a three-hour battery life for the headphones and an eight-hour battery life for the transmitter, a solid swim session is guaranteed.
What’s the Future of Underwater Listening?
As for what the future may bring, one thing’s for sure: the future is bright. Technology is constantly evolving, and who knows what technological breakthrough may be just beyond the horizon.
The field of BCT is growing, and the waterproof headphone market is a promising one. We will likely see many more developments in the not-so-distant future. In the meantime, our underwater headphones provide just about everything a swimmer needs for their listening pleasure.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth is simply not going to work well underwater. There is a workaround, though: underwater bone conduction headphones with a special transmitter to help bridge the gap between your device and the limited Bluetooth signals.
Though very different from traditional headphones, this headphone/ transmitter pairing is just what any swimmer needs to stay motivated and keep their rhythm in the water. Grab your headset, start your favorite playlist, and enjoy the swim!