The company, Essency, says that the app, which is called Awareness! The Headphone App and is available for £1.79 from the Apple App Store, lets you listen to your music at whichever volume you choose, but lets through sounds such as shouts, sirens, alarms and conversations.
The app is shown in operation in the following video – we’d better warn you, though, the sound level is pretty high so you might want to turn your headphones or speakers down first!
Targeted at cyclists, pedestrians, drivers and motorbikers, it aims to do away with so-called “iPod oblivion,” with a company spokesman explaining: "Awareness! is not just a safety app, it gives users the option of setting a microphone trigger level so the mic is only switched on when an external sound exceeds the desired level.
“In the office it allows headphone users to hear a phone ring or when they're being offered a coffee - without taking their headphones off.
“At home it allows users to hear a doorbell, the chime of a clock, or a baby monitor."
The company says that Awareness! is “a unique new class of active functional headphone app,” enabling the user to “maintain spatial audio awareness for better safety in any surrounding” and “bleed in external sounds.”
It automatically sets a microphone trigger level, which excludes everyday background noise, while warnings are able to break through even loud music.
The app works with all types of headsets and earphones, and the developers say it is particularly suitable for use with “closed, on-ear, in-ear, noise isolating and noise-cancelling headphones.”
Currently available for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, versions of the app for the iPad and Android and Symbian devices are currently being developed and should be available shortly.
Further information is available on the company’s website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.