US Air Force to use 'molar mic' that clips to back teeth

Sonitus Technologies has been awarded Phase II of its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense which is structured to provide the U.S. Air Force with a personal communication system that Air Force personnel have nicknamed the ‘Molar Mic.’ The two-way, personal communication system, ATAC, fits a miniaturised traditional headset into a device that clips to a user’s back teeth.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), via its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), has contracted Sonitus for a multi-million dollar, multi-year agreement, to complete development of the Molar Mic for purposes of transition to fielding and deployment of the system upon successful conclusion of the first segment of the contract which is funded by the U.S Air Force. Subsequently, other qualified branches of the U.S. defense community may leverage the technology as part of the DOD’s program to enhance communications capabilities and operational safety of its personnel.

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Pararescuemen (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.

Sonitus Technologies uses a patented audio interface and near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) technology to achieve its performance. The recent award followed DOD-funded field-testing of prototypes by military personnel from all of the major service branches with extensive field experimentation. Testing included multiple scenarios, with and without personal protective equipment, all with extreme noise and without loss of communication.

Sonitus creates a wireless audio interface by embedding both a tiny microphone for talking and a speaker-transducer for hearing in a custom-fit mouth-piece that snaps around a user’s back teeth. This allows the user to both talk and hear without external devices attached to the head. The placement on the teeth uses the body itself to block external noise when speaking and uses the user’s teeth and jawbone to create a new auditory path for hearing. The result is an unobstructed head and face, clear communication, higher comfort, enhanced situational awareness and the ability to add or remove personal protective equipment without breaking communication.

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