NAVSEA Dalgren?s Coastal Systems Station (CCS) has developed a hands free communications device. This device could produce life saving results for the individual firefighter who would have an improved ability to communicate in high noise situations.
The head contact microphone, usually mounted into the headband of a hat or helmet, transmits spoken words from the wearer through physical contact of a transducer with the human cranium. The device has the ability to reject external noise in excess of 100 decibels. The technology is simple and should be affordable when mass-produced. By rejecting such noise, the microphone assembly could be very useful in a number of high noise environments including fire and police systems, aircraft flight lines, environmental hazardous materials suits, manufacturing plants, and in underwater communications systems such as scuba gear.
The technology was first developed in 1989 under a CSS Independent Research/Independent Engineering. Development project funded the Office of Naval Research. A waterproof microphone based on this research was request by the Navy SEALs and has been utilized in their full-face diving mask since 1989. Soundproofing was added during the Gulf War to answer a second request from the SEALs.
The potential for firefighting and other applications began in 1997 when the Pittsburgh Fire Department asked CSS to bring the system, which had been developed for the SEALs, to Pittsburgh for an in-house demonstration.
The CSS version of the head contact microphone has also been delivered to researchers at Duke University
as part of a project to assist persons with diminished vocal capability. This device, when placed behind the ear, avoids the social stigma of a communication device being used by a client, and has shown utility for people with reduced vocalization volume. The transducer size
is approximately one inch by one inch by one-eighth inch.
The technology has recently been licensed to Sensory Systems Incorporated doing business under the name of Radio Ear Corporation.
By David Caskey, NAVSEA Office of congressional and Public Affairs
Source: NAVSEA News wire