Woman in blue plaid shirt headphones with SoundBrake 600x274

Sound isolating headphones can enhance your enjoyment and immersion when you’re listening to music, audio books, or other content. Whether at home, at work, outside, or driving in your car, however, being cut off from audible warnings can be dangerous to you and to others. According to LiveScience, 116 reported accidents involved death or injury to pedestrians wearing headphones from 2004 to 2011. Of that number, 70 percent resulted in death. In 29 percent of the cases, a warning was sounded before the crash. Safety concerns aren’t restricted to sidewalks, however. If you don’t hear someone at the door, in your house, or other disturbances at home and if you’re not aware of alerts or alarms at work, or even knowing your boss is calling you, the results can range from discomfort to significant danger.

Sundae Electronics, a member of the Crowdcreate community, is currently developing SoundBrake 2.0, a second generation headphone attachment that can be used with any audio source to alert listeners to important outside sounds. The concept behind both SoundBrake versions is similar. You connect the SoundBrake device in-line between your audio source and the headphones. When environmental sound reaches a preset, adjustable level, the SoundBrake sends an audio signal to alert you to come out of your aural cocoon to check out what’s happening. SoundBrake 1.0 was crowdfunded on Kickstarter in early 2016.  That version was a rectangular dongle that plugged into a 3.5 mm speaker or audio out jack on an audio source. With 1.0, when outside sound reached the preset level the audio input was cut off and the device sounded an alert. The company intends to launch SoundBrake 2.o on Indiegogo at a time not yet announced. This model will have a more finished, A-V accessory look and attaches closer to the headphones. With 2.0, if the outside sound is louder than a preset level, that sound is instantly streamed into your headphones. There are also alert sensitivity adjustment buttons on the device. SoundBrake 2.0 can be used with Bluetooth audio with an adapter and also has a self-testing function that measures the environmental sound to set an appropriate alert level.

The SoundBrake technology doesn’t use bio-sensors, smartphone associated apps, or algorithms, but it can allow you to more fully enjoy your desired audio content, knowing that the device will alert you to unexpected sounds.