The Phonak ComCom headset

ComCom

ComCom consists of different components: a custom made so called eShell, which is produced by 3D selective laser sintering of powder of clinical nylon. In steps of one tenth of a millimeter layer by layer the earpiece is built, off a laser scanned ear impression. It is a hollow piece of green or beige nylon, lightweight (just 1.8 grams), durable, and comfortable as it is built exactly along the anatomy of the referees ear. Phonak’s knowledge of the ear anatomy and experience with creating comfortable, durable and biocompatible hearing aids came in handy of course. On the outside facing part of the eShell a so called multifunctional interface, a mechanical opening of fixed dimension and shape, allows for the piece with the electronics to be snapped in. The electronics contain a small inwards facing loudspeaker that can deliver sound up to 100 dB SPL. In stadiums populated with vuvuzelas and other fan instruments this is what is needed to get a still positive signal to noise ratio and meaningful speech at the eardrum. A thin boom from the earpiece containing the sensitive electret, noise canceling, close-talk microphone picks up the voice of the referee. Here Phonak’s extensive knowledge in FM and Roger systems came in handy, where picking up the voice as close as possible to the source, the mouth, is known to be the most effective approach to allow for communication in high noise levels. The earpiece is wired to a special full duplex radio system called Vokkero. This means that up to six referees can be connected in one network, and all can speak and listen at the same time, without the press of a button as in walkie-talkies or many other professional radio systems. The radio system makes use of latest encryption technologies, which means no one can break in into the radio communication between referees.

ComCom is a modular system, consisting of the eShells which are individual and the electronics which are not. The modularity brings many advantages: The electronics parts can be shared between users. The eShell can be remade without the electronics being affected. This can be done e.g. in case of loss of the eShell - all files of the digitized ear impressions are stored electronically so no new ear impression is required. Alternative headsets with alternative connectors can be used as well, like for cell phones.