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article imageMilitary may soon get communications device worn in the mouth

By Karen Graham     Sep 14, 2018 in Technology
San Mateo - The future is here, and in this version, US service members can make and receive calls through their teeth. That's the gist of Molar Mic, a communications device detailed in a new $10 million Pentagon contract with a California company.
Basically, the Molar Mic is a small device that clips on to the back teeth. It is both a microphone and "speaker." This makes the wearer able to communicate with someone in almost any combat situation. The Micro Mic audio interface system enables clear communication in the harshest conditions; performing underwater, in free-fall, and when using full-face life support masks.
The innovative two-way, personal communication system, ATAC™, fits a miniaturized traditional headset into a device that clips to a user’s back teeth.
Sonitus Technologies announced the company was awarded Phase II of its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to provide the U.S. Air Force with the novel new personal communication system that Air Force personnel have nicknamed the ‘Molar Mic.’
The future of battlefield communications is resting comfortably near your back gums.
The future of battlefield communications is resting comfortably near your back gums.
“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,” said Peter Hadrovic, CEO of Sonitus Technologies.
"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.”
How does this technology work?
With the device clipped to the back teeth, the wearer is able to hear communications through their cranial bones which transmit the sound to the auditory nerve. The user also wears a low-profile transmitter loop around their neck that connects to the Molar Mic via near-field magnetic induction.
It's a system that is similar to Bluetooth that can be encrypted and used under water. The loop then connects with a phone, walkie-talkie or other communications device. The San Mateo-based company realizes communicating through your teeth may take some getting used to.
“Essentially, what you are doing is receiving the same type of auditory information that you receive from your ear, except that you are using a new auditory pathway — through your tooth, through your cranial bones — to that auditory nerve. You can hear through your head as if you were hearing through your ear,” Sonitus CEO Peter Hadrovic tells Patrick Tucker at Defense One.
“Over the period of three weeks, your brain adapts and it enhances your ability to process the audio [but even] out of the gate, you can understand it.”
The Micro Mic has already been tested in the field. The system was tried out by airmen in Afghanistan for 14 months while deployed, though not in active missions. However, in Houston during Hurricane Harvey last year, the device worked very well.
Pararescuemen (commonly known as PJs) from the Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, participated in early field testing of the Sonitus prototypes, including rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey last summer in Houston.
“The ability to communicate by radio is crucial for our mission,” said a PJ and DIU Warrior in Residence. “It enables us to execute in extreme conditions and save lives. But despite having amazing technology, communication still commonly breaks down because of the extreme environments where we operate.”
Security personnel, first responders, and industrial workers such as those in the energy sector are evaluating the Sonitus solution for their market applications. But right now, until the Pentagon contracts are filled, the only people getting the system is the Air Force.
More about Telecommunications, Molar Mic, Sonitus Technologies, Air force, back teeth
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