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10:09 AM, September 9, 2015
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BAE Systems Tech to Do Away With Earphones For Soldiers
Bone Conduction Technology (Image: BAE Systems)

BAE Systems has developed a prototype communication device to improve soldier safety by using body’s natural ability to transmit sound through bone conduction and do away with earphones.

“The prototype system will harness the body's natural ability to transmit sound through bone conduction, transferring messages directly from the soldier’s helmet to the inner ear. It is being developed as part of Company-funded research which aims to reduce the burden on the dismounted soldier through wearable technology,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Soldiers need to be able to receive audio communications to maximize their awareness and understanding of the challenging environments they are working in, whilst also protecting themselves from extremely loud noises such as gunfire. To address these conflicting requirements, BAE Systems engineers have adapted existing bone conduction technology often used in commercial headphones and hearing aids for the military domain.

The resulting solution significantly improves the performance of the device and minimizing the size and weight of the transducer to the size of a five pence coin. Leveraging off-the-shelf technology to engineer the prototype has allowed the team to significantly reduce development time and costs.

Mohammed Akhmad, Principal Scientist at BAE Systems, said: "We recognize that on the battlefield, auditory situational awareness is essential for armed forces personnel. With this system, 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.

"Through collaborating directly with our customer, we are able to understand their operational challenges and translate them into technical solutions. The key to this concept is that we have been able to utilise off-the-shelf technology and apply our specialist engineering expertise to greatly reduce the time it takes to develop a new prototype. In doing so, we have developed an audio system that offers enhanced capabilities for the military domain," Akhmad said.

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 this year.

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