A NEW style of headphones invented by a York speaker specialist has enabled a teenager to hear stereo sound for the first time in his life.

Fourteen-year-old Thomas Robertshaw was born with Mircotia, meaning that while the inner workings of his ear are all there, the outer lobe did not develop.

With only one working ear he has never before heard stereo, or surround sound, until a chance online discussion between his step-father and a York businessman.

James Talbot launched Damson Audio three years ago, initially designing stereo speakers, before coming up with an idea for a new style of headphone, sending sound through vibrations into the head, via "bone conduction", rather then directly into the ears.

He turned to the online crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise the funds to develop his new product Headbones, attracting £95,000 of investment.

Mr Talbot, who runs his business from York Business Park in Poppleton, said: "I pursued the idea for Headbones initially because of the safety aspect after noticing the amount of people riding a bike or running with headphones in, unaware of their surroundings.

"Using bone conduction it keeps their ears free, i.e they can still hear the lorry behind them."

However while Mr Talbot was raising awareness of Headbones for use in sport, his idea had been picked up by Thomas's step-father Stuart Winder, in Boroughbridge.

Mr Winder said: "I'm a bit of gadget and tech fan so often look on Kickstarter. I saw the idea for Headbones and wondered if they could work for Thomas.

"I emailed James, having no idea he was based just ten miles down the road. When we realised how close we were to each other he said Thomas could be one of the first people to trial Headbones."

Following early production runs Thomas has now been given his own set of Headbones, allowing him to hear music through both ears for the first time in his life.

The Boroughbridge High pupil, who enjoys listening to chart music said: "It was really good. I had never heard stereo sound before. It's totally different to what I used to listen to. It was unusual but great."

York Press:
Thomas Robertshaw modelling the Headbones

Mr Talbot, who runs Damson Audio with a team of four, has since secured orders to supply Headbones to Jet2, and is working to place them with retailers in the UK and the US.

He said: "Until Stuart got in touch and I heard about Thomas I had never considered how Headbones could be used from a medical and hearing impairment side of things.

"It was really quite emotional to see Thomas use them, to see a 14-year-old who had never heard sound like that before. The look on his face was truly special."