BAE Systems has developed a device that transmits sound through bones, enabling soldiers to maintain communication and situational awareness on the battlefield while still wearing ear protectors.
The transponder, which is the size of a five pence piece and is integrated into a helmet, has been designed to improve soldier safety uses the body’s natural ability to transmit sound through bone conduction to transfer messages from the soldier’s helmet to the inner ear.
The technology bypasses the ear drum by using bone conduction to convert sound waves into vibrations that are sent through cranial bones directly to the cochlea.
Soldiers need to be able to receive audio communications to maximise their awareness and understanding of the challenging environments they are working in, whilst also needing protection from extremely loud noises such as gunfire.
To address these conflicting requirements, BAE Systems engineers adapted existing bone conduction technology used in commercial headphones and hearing aids for the military domain.
Mohammed Akhmad, principal scientist at BAE Systems, said: “We have developed an audio system that offers enhanced capabilities for the military domain. The soldiers can safeguard their hearing with ear protectors whilst still clearly receiving military voice communications, to enable them to perform their roles efficiently and safely.
“The key to this concept is that we have been able to utilise off-the-shelf technology and to greatly reduce the time it takes to develop a new prototype. ”
In the future this technology will be incorporated into future integrated helmets. A concept demonstrator for BAE Systems’ bone conduction technology will be on display at DSEI (Defence and Security Equipment International), in London later this year.