Hearing in Noise with Improved Noise Reduction Foam

Period of Performance: 08/05/2004 - 01/04/2005


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Hearing Components, Inc.
Oakdale, MN 55128
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Large numbers of individuals are exposed to high noise environments during their workday compromising hearing, safety and effective communication. The health, safety of individuals and ability to communicate in high noise environments is increased with in-the-ear, hearing-in-noise communication devices that reduce high ambient noise while delivering the desired sound. The hearing-in-noise devices are based on in-the-ear miniature speaker systems that send desired sound through a lumen in a passive noise reducing viscoelastic foam tip that reside in the ear canals. The heart of our Fast-Track SBIR approach is a novel foam sound dampening material construction that shows significantly improved sound attenuation over the best available viscoelastic materials. The approach would build on our manufacturing process expertise for the high volume production of foam Comply TM Snap Tips. Phase I will determine the feasibility of achieving a minimum of 3 dB improvement in attenuation, thus doubling the effectiveness of the best available commercial sound attenuation earpiece, i.e., viscoelastic polyurethane foam, in a convincing and reproducible manner. Phase II will consist of defining the basic science, i.e., theology of the enhanced viscoelastic foam material, to lay a foundation for the development of manufacturing processes for producing the enhanced viscoelastic material into low-cost, disposables that work in tandem to improve our collaborators' in-the-ear electronic devices that provide hearing and related communications in noisy environments.