Digital Method for Improved Custom Hearing Protection Equipment

Period of Performance: 09/23/2008 - 11/23/2009

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Adaptive Technologies, Inc.
2020 Kraft Drive Suite 3040
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Custom fitting hearing protection ear plugs have been shown to provide substantial benefits for personnel working in high noise environments such as around military aircraft and in a range of other war fighter and civilian industrial scenarios. Current manufacturing processes for shaping custom ear plugs require that physical impressions be taken of customers ear canals. Since this involves injecting silicone material directly into the ear, physical impression taking can be uncomfortable for the customer and yield results which will vary with the skill and technique of the practitioner. The focus of this Phase I program is to develop new means, based on Computed Tomography (CT) imaging technology, for capturing ear anatomy information without the need for physical impressions. Eliminating the physical impression will also eliminate the associated discomfort and variability and lead to more satisfied customers getting more reliable hearing protection. This Phase I program will further demonstrate initial feasibility of completing a custom earplug manufacturing process using only digital data, starting from a non-invasive CT scan through production to a finished hearing protector product. A report describing the approach and initial demonstration of the new capabilities will be provided at the conclusion of this work.