Currently featured as part of the Apple iTunes App Store 'New & Noteworthy' choice selection, Awareness! The Headphone App from UK firm essency aims to let users listen to music and the outside world at the same time.

Highlighting 'iPod zombies,' Edmund King, the president of the AA, recently called for the Department for Transport to launch a campaign warning cyclists of the risks of being lost in music. "They [iPods] are meant to be mobile, but if you are cycling, you need all your senses about you," the AA president said.

The latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures show that 820 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the three months to June of last year, a 19 per cent rise on the same period in 2008.

The Awareness! application promises to help rectify the problem, allowing users to listen to music at whatever volume they choose but, importantly,  to remain fully aware in situations where they need to be safe. As well as cycling and jogging, examples could include when travelling late at night or when needing to listen out for important announcements or hear conversations.

Accessing the iPhone, iPod touch or headset microphones, Awareness! allows the user to set precisely the amount and type of external sound they want delivered into their headphone mix.

Offered fully auto or fully manual, users can bleed in some audio spatial awareness, while an auto-set microphone trigger level allows warnings to break through even the loudest music insists essency. You can also turn Awareness! off at any time.

Awareness! The Headphone App

The latest 1.1 update adds improved functionality and has implemented user requested features.

Essency co-founders Alex and Antony share a passion for technology and music making that spans over 25 years. With a background in the fields of music, sound engineering and computing, the duo plan a trio of applications lined up for the iPhone and iPod touch, which they believe could change headphones forever.

Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Awareness! The Headphone App costs £2.99 and requires the iOS 4.1 Software Update or later.

The makers add, Awareness! also requires the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch 3 generation - with headset, iPod touch 4 generation. The application will be iPad compatible when Apple release the iOS 4.2 update in November.

Awareness! will not work on the iPhone 3G or on wireless or Bluetooth headsets.

An Awareness! can be seen here and below.

A campaign group Youth for Road Safety, has recently launched a new campaign, 'Tune into Traffic' under the slogan 'Your earphones could kill you'.

Manpreet Darroch, campaign director told the Daily Mail: "It’s a serious problem which is only going to get worse as the number of cyclists increases - lots of people are completely oblivious to what’s going on around them."

"People don’t realise how dangerous listening to music is on the roads - whether pedestrian or cyclist. It takes one of your key senses away. People shouldn’t do it."

"You can legislate until you are blue in the face. On the issue of iPods we just need to raise awareness."