Back in 2010, a company called Sonitus Technologies introduced a novel hearing aid called the SoundBite. The system married a behind-the-ear microphone unit with a custom made clip for inside the mouth that sent tiny vibrations to the inner ear which were translated into sounds. The latest communication aid from the company has attracted the attention of the US Department of Defense, which has awarded Sonitus a contract to develop a wireless two-way comms system that clips to a user's back teeth.
Dubbed the Molar Mic by the US Air Force, which will be the first to deploy the system at the close of the first multi-year, multi-million dollar development stage, the system has been designed to facilitate clear incoming and outgoing voice communication no matter the wearer's operating environment, eliminating the need for external headsets and trailing wires.
"The voice interface sustains communications in dangerous and challenging environments," said the Sonitus CEO Peter Hadrovic. "The Molar Mic is the first in our family of solutions that conventional approaches are unable to address."
Early prototypes of the Molar Mic system have already undergone field testing by members of the Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, including use in Houston during Hurricane Harvey last year.
The patented audio interface combines a small waterproof microphone and a bone conducting transducer in a custom-fit, battery-powered mouthpiece that's snapped around a wearer's back teeth. The mouthpiece turns incoming audio into vibrations on the molars, which the inner ear translates into sounds that appear to be coming from inside the head, while allowing external sounds to be heard at the same time.
"The placement on the teeth uses the body itself to block external noise when speaking and leverages the user's teeth and jawbone to create a new auditory path for hearing," explained the company in a press release. The mouthpiece links via near-field magnetic induction technology to a tactical neckloop, which is itself connected to a radio. A wireless remote mimics the push-to-talk action of the radio.
The roll out to US Air Force personnel is expected to be followed by other branches of the US defense community. Sonitus says that the system is also being evaluated for use by security personnel, first responders and industrial workers.
Source: Sonitus Technologies
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