BAE Systems is in the process of developing bone conduction technology for use by soldiers on the battlefield. The helmet-based system will leverage the same basic technology as that found in commercial bone amplifying headphones, and should have the effect of allowing soldiers to hear comms over the loudest battlefield noises.
With bone conduction technology, sound waves are converted into vibrations that pass through the user's cranial bones, bypassing the eardrum altogether and transmitting directly to the cochlea – that's the sensory organ that is responsible for translating sound into nerve impulses for the brain to interpret.
The military-grade system will build on commercially-developed technology, integrating with a combat helmet in such a way as to place the comms unit just above the ear. BAE states that the prototype is no bigger than a five pence coin.
"We recognize that on the battlefield, auditory situational awareness is essential for armed forces personnel" states principal scientist Mohammed Akhmad. "With this system, the soldiers can safeguard their hearing with ear protectors whilst still clearly receiving military voice communications, to enable them to perform their roles efficiently and safely."
A prototype of the system is set to be displayed at the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London later this year.
Source: BAE Systems