A company called Sonitus Technologies was recently awarded a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to develop a wireless two-way comms system that can be placed inside the mouth. More specifically, it clips to the back teeth or molars, hence the name Molar Mic.
Sonitus is known for developing a similar hearing aid called the SoundBite, so the Molar Mic is definitely up their alley.
What is the Molar Mic?
You can see how the entire Molar Mic system works in this diagram from Sonitus.
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. Air Force will be the first to incorporate use of the Molar Mic after its development. The idea is to leverage a two-way comms system that offers clear incoming and outgoing audio streams sans wires or cables. In addition, because the mic is placed inside the user’s mouth, it should work in just about any environment.
Essentially, there’s a mini waterproof microphone inside the device, coupled with a bone conducting “transducer” which delivers the audio. It’s all encased inside a custom-fit mouthpiece, which ultimately snaps to the user’s back molars.
Audio is delivered through vibrations in the user’s teeth, which is picked up by the inner ear creating clear, local audio. While wearing a Molar Mic you can also discern external audio because of how the system works, even when there’s an incoming audio stream. It’s easy to see why this application would be useful for the U.S. military.
The entire mic syncs up via near-field magnetic induction to a neckloop. That loop is plugged into a radio, individually controlled by a wireless remote. At any time the wearer can engage the remote like a push-to-talk radio.
Unfortunately, the audio is so clear that we’ll have to simulate the radio closing sound commonly heard on walkie-talkies. Of course, that should also always be followed by an “out.”