- Published on 17 September 2018
Sonitus Technologies has secured a multi-million-dollar contract with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) for the company’s ‘Molar Mic’, a new personal communication system. The system has already been in use with the U.S. Air Force and its air force personnel who have given the system its nickname, Molar Mic. This concept may sound familiar to audiologists.
Similar technology was previously used in a mouth-worn bone-conduction hearing device and promoted to the audiology community as ‘SoundBite’ from Sonitus Medical.
The new Sonitus system creates a unique wireless audio interface through a small device that clips to the back teeth. The device is both microphone and ‘speaker’ allowing the wearer to transmit without any conspicuous external microphone and receive with no visible headset or earpiece. Incoming sound is transmitted through the wearer’s bone matter in the jaw and skull to the auditory nerves; outgoing sound is sent to a radio transmitter on the neck and sent to another radio unit that can be concealed on the operator. From there, the signal can be sent anywhere.
“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,” said Peter Hadrovic, CEO of Molar Mic creator Sonitus Technologies.
Your ability to understand conversations transmitted through bone improves with practice. “Over the period of three weeks, your brain adapts, and it enhances your ability to process the audio,” said Hadrovic. But even “out of the gate, you can understand it,” he said.
Sonitus received early funding from In-Q-Tel, the non-profit investment arm of the CIA, to develop the concept. In-Q-Tel identifies and partners with start-up companies developing innovative technologies that protect and preserve U.S. security. Pararescuemen (commonly known as PJs) from the Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron based at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA, 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.” In one case during Hurricane Harvey, a PJ was involved in airlifting an injured civilian into a helicopter hovering directly overhead and was attempting communication with the helicopter flight engineer and pilot using the Sonitus system. The crew was amazed that they could clearly hear the PJ in these conditions.
“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.
Security personnel, first responders, and industrial workers such as those in the energy sector are currently evaluating the Sonitus solution for their market applications.
Source: Sonitus Technologies