The invention of the first headset is generally attributed to Nathaniel Baldwin’s invention in 1910. His innovative radio headset remained largely unknown until the Navy, who saw the use for such a portable and lightweight means of communication purchased hundreds of them. Over time, headset technology would advance as headsets would become lighter and eventually no longer need to be connected through wiring. Today, headset technology is used in a variety of functions for a number of reasons.
What Exactly is a Headset?
A headset is comprised of a headphone and microphone that are attached to a single unit to provide hands-free two-way communication. The hands-free aspect allows it to be used for a variety of purposes in addition to relieving the stress of having to use hands to hold the headphone or microphone portion up. Private sector companies use them for things like call centers and government agencies like law enforcement make use of them through dispatch centers.
Types of headsets
Headsets can come in either single or double-earpiece. Single-earpiece headsets have the advantage of leaving one ear free. This comes in handy if the custom vr headsets headset user must multi-task. Another distinction are external and microtube (or internal) headsets. This distinction refers to differences in the placement of the microphone itself (in external versions, the microphone is located in the front end of the microphone arm, whereas in the internal counterpart, it is located in near the earpiece itself).
External microphone types are typically either omni-directional, or noise-cancellation. The noise-cancellation version has a receptive field situated in a manner that picks up local sounds and largely filters out noises from a distance. This can be a great asset for operators who need to hear sound from their headset and cancel out surrounding distractions. Examples of these can be workers in a noisy warehouse who need to communicate with operator and filter out the sound of large machines such as forklifts. Another example includes office workers in a cubicle environment with loud and obnoxious co-workers. Bi-directional microphones allow for great reception for noise coming from 90 degrees of a desired angle. This is great for users who need to hear noises coming from a certain direction but needing to filter out noise from a different direction. Omni-directional microphones, as the name suggests, allow for optimal hearing from 360 degrees.
Another distinction among headsets is the shape of the supporting feature. For example, some headsets are supported through the use of a headband that’s worn over the head. Others have a headband going over the back of the user’s neck. Others simply use an ear hook to attach directly to the ear itself. Standard telephone headsets replace the function of a telephone handset by connecting to the phone itself using a direct connection.
Mobile headsets (commonly referred to as “hands-free” headsets) connect to mobile phones and allow for two-way communication without the need for the user to hold a mobile phone close to his or her ear. This frees up both hands for other activities including driving, typing, gaming, shopping, etc. In fact, the introduction and popularization of hands free technology has proven to be rather timely. More and more states have begun to crack down on cell phone usage while driving (Washington joined this list of states as of June 2010) as some studies have linked such usage to an increase in vehicle accidents.
Wired Headsets vs Wireless Headsets
Wired headsets are an inexpensive solution to becoming hands free. The simplicity in technology and use of a wire also tends to provide superior sound quality to its wireless counterparts. Wireless headsets are more expensive but also trendier. Even with the added costs however, the sound quality is not the same, though it’s arguably more convenient not having to deal a cord and the issues this brings (ie. tangling, cleaning, damaging, etc). Wireless headset types include Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) and Bluetooth. The latter is generally used for mobile phones, and Bluetooth connectivity has become a standard feature in cell phones.