New Cell-Phone Attachment Makes Ears 'Speak'

Two Japanese companies have joined up to make what may be the world's first consumer in-ear microphone.

Tech giant Sanyo and tiny electronics manufacturer NS-ELEX debuted the e-Mimi-Kun, or "good ear boy," at a Tokyo press conference on Tuesday.

NS-ELEX's revolutionary earpiece transmits conversations in both directions. It's got a standard earphone speaker, but also a tiny microphone that picks up the wearer's voice through the Eustachian tube that connects his ear to his mouth.

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The earpiece connects to a small box, about the size of a business card, that amplifies both ingoing and outgoing sounds and uses Sanyo's noise-canceling circuits to deaden ambient sound.

The e-Mimi-Kun is aimed at people who work in noisy environments — construction workers, traffic cops and the like.

For a good chunk of Japanese change, you can get one of two models. The wired kind, which connects to a cell phone via a standard 1/8-inch jack, will cost 40,000 yen ($350), while a Bluetooth version will go for 60,000 yen ($530).

• Click here for a report from Australia's Daily Telegraph, or here for lots of pictures of pretty Japanese girls wearing the device.