Zungle is Kickstarting their Panther sunglasses, which combine bone conduction sound with simple sunglasses. They’re cool way cooler than other attempts to mash eyewear with tunes. Remember Oakley Thumps? It’s better you don’t. If Axl Rose were to design sunglasses with headphones, he would have designed the Thumps. They were not only weird-looking but didn’t do so well.
Thumps were to revolutionize the headphones market, cramming earbuds onto the frames of your favorite Oakley sunglasses.
The Thumps were an MP3 player. For a minute in the 2000’s, it looked like Oakley had the market cornered, but they didn’t. Thumps didn’t last.
The Panther bone-conducting sunglasses from Zungle may suffer the same fate in the long run as the Oakleys, but the simplicity of the design seems to have broader application.
They’re so simple, they weigh less than a pair of Ray-Bans, but do so much more.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen bone-conduction.
Headsets that turn your head into a soundboard are more common than you might think. The technology is more intimate. It also frees users to hear the world around them.
Bone conduction headphone let users experience music without covering the ear canal. For better or worse you can still hear cars, people, questions, and more, even if you were hoping to tune it all out.
Because bone-conduction vibrates your skeleton, you get very personal with the bass element. In fact, the whole spectrum of the EQ is personal, not just something your eardrum picks up.
Unlike the Thumps, these look like normal sunglass. They are a wayfarer style with a little thickness over the ears. It’s unnoticeable.
Presumably, if they succeed with their Kickstarter, then their product launch, we would expect to see other style come down the pipeline, but not in a wireframe style.
They hide the technology for the Panthers in the plastic parts of the frames. The port for recharging is in the hinge. The rest you’ll never see, as it’s buried in the arms.
This would be tough in a wire-thin frame, but the future may unlock micro-technologies to account for this.
You have five different frame colors from which to choose. For lenses, ironically, you have seven Oakley lenses to pick from.
You can change the lenses to suit your tastes or outfit for the day.
Stacking them against the rest
You will spend $120-$250 for an entry-level pair of designer sunglasses. The lowest Kickstarter investment at this point is $109 for one pair.
We could no more compare these to the defunct Thumps than we could compare the all-aluminum frame Ford F150 to the first F150. Same basic idea, but different execution.
You also can’t compare these to other sunglasses. The original Ray Bans wayfarers weigh five grams more, sans tunes.
It’s safe to say, these are the first of their kind without looking totally weird.
Because they are Bluetooth 4.1, using your smartphone to play tunes not internal MP3 storage, your Panther’s can do other tricks.
They come with a mic so you can answer calls.
You get four hours of use from one charge, which take you under 60 minutes. Your standby time is 100 hours, just in case you forget to keep them charged.
The lens technology is, IMHO, the only let down. They are not polarized.
If you’re spoiled by polarized lenses, you know downgrading is like going from Blu-ray to DVD: you can never go back
People will think you’re just wearing sunglasses. When they talk to you, you won’t have to scramble to remove headphones so you can hear.
They’ll never know you were pumping Guns N Roses as you gave them directions to the subway.
Welcome to the Zungle.