US military's ‘Molar Mic’
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Credit: Sonitus Technologies

Earlier this month, Sonitus Technologies announced that it has been awarded the second phase of its contract with the US Department of Defense (DOD) to provide the US Air Force with an two-way radio system, ATAC (aka the ‘Molar Mic’, that has miniaturised its microphone and speaker-transducer components into a device that clips to a user’s back teeth.

It allows the user to talk and hear without external devices attached to the head and its placement on the teeth uses the body itself to block external noise when speaking, while also leveraging the user’s teeth and jawbone to create an auditory path for hearing. This, the company claims, enables the user’s head and face to be unobstructed and results in enhanced situational awareness and the ability to add or remove personal protective equipment without breaking communication. The device uses a patented audio interface and near-field magnetic induction technology

“Sonitus Technologies is honoured 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.”

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.”

According to Sonitus, 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. It adds that the crew was amazed that they could clearly hear the PJ in these conditions.

The DOD via its Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has contracted Sonitus for a multi-million dollar multi-year agreement to complete the development of the Molar Mic. Sonitus was introduced to the DOD by In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit strategic investor that identifies and partners with start-up companies developing technologies that could protect and preserve US security.

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