Sonitus Technologies has created a wireless, two-way radio communication system that can clip onto the wearer’s upper back molars. Nicknamed Molar Mic by the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the Department of Defense (DoD) via its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) awarded Sonitus Technologies a multi-million dollar, multi-year agreement to develop the system.
The USAF will be the first to leverage this technology, enabling clear communication that removes earpieces, wires, and external headsets from the equation.
“Sonitus Technologies is honored to bring this game changing technology to our country’s elite military, making them safer and more effective by enabling them to communicate clearly—even in the most extreme situations,” says Sonitus Technologies’ CEO Peter Hadrovic.
Molar Mic will also be able to withstand operations in harsh environments. For example, Molar Mic is set to function properly in free-fall, underwater, and when donning full-face life support masks.
“The voice interface sustains communications in dangerous and challenging environments. The Molar Mic is the first in our family of solutions that conventional approaches are unable to address,” says Hadrovic.
The wireless comms system links with near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) technology and utilizes the company’s patented wireless audio interface. The custom-fit mouthpiece contains a bone-conduction speaker, waterproof microphone, and rechargeable battery. To hear incoming communication via bone conduction, “the mouthpiece translates sound into vibration on the teeth, which is translated back into sound by the inner-ear,” according to Sonitus Technologies. The embedded microphone aids with outgoing transmissions.
When speaking, the user’s own body acts as a shield against external noise. Hearing, on the other hand, uses the jawbone and teeth to create unobstructed auditory pathways.
Early prototypes were tested by pararescuemen (PJs) from the Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., proving their worth during Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts in Houston. During an airlift with an injured civilian, a PJ used the system to communicate with the helicopter pilot and flight engineer.
“The crew was amazed that they could clearly hear the PJ in these conditions,” according to Sonitus Technologies in a press release.
Molar Mic can also serve other branches of the U.S. defense community, along with first responders and energy sector industrial workers.