Next Generation Passive Hearing Protection

Period of Performance: 02/01/2013 - 08/01/2013

$80K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Oceanit Laboratories, Inc.
828 Fort Street Mall Suite 600
Honolulu, HI 96813
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The objective of the proposed effort is to develop and demonstrate a passive hearing protection that affords true sense of presence for normal sound with directionality. Existing hearing protection systems fall short of providing a true sense of situational awareness for the user and are therefore not used in some combat situations by the warfighter. Loss of directionality is a common consequence of wearing passive hearing protection earplugs such as the Combat Arms Earplug as well as hearing-aid type earplugs such as the Etymotic EB15. While both afford a level of protection for the user, both reduce the ability of the user to identify the direction of important audio cues. While the EB15 additionally amplifies low intensity sounds, as hearing aids do, they suffer from the same issues that hearing aid users complain about, including feedback noise, wind noise and amplified white noise. Oceanit proposes a novel earplug hearing protection system that will reduce high intensity noise by up to 30 dB while freely transmitting low intensity noise in a way that will not interfere with the natural means of the user to locate the directions of sounds.