Forget about microphone-equipped earbuds or those Britney Spears mics rocked by pop stars — when it comes to state-of-the-art microphone systems you don’t need to look any further than the U.S. Department of Defense. As part of a new $10 million deal with Sonitus Technologies, members of the Air Force (and possibly others in the future) will soon be able to communicate using a next-generation miniaturized microphone system that clips to their back teeth.
“In this new era of human-machine communications, we need entirely new types of interfaces, and that’s what we’re delivering with the Molar Mic,” Peter Hadrovic, CEO of Sonitus, told Digital Trends. “Now, modern warfighters and others in the defense community can maintain clear, unbroken communications by moving their personal communications system inside their mouth, providing clear two-way communications with their colleagues while working in even the most severe and challenging environments and situations.”
The Molar Mic incorporates a miniature microphone and receiver in a small mouthpiece that’s designed to easily snap onto a wearer’s back teeth. Using near-field magnetic induction technology, the system converts incoming signals into vibrations that travel from the user’s teeth, through their jawbone, into their auditory nerves in their head. This eliminates the need for earpieces, microphones, or any other loose wires on the head.
The Molar Mic doesn’t just make microphone systems less bulky, however. It also opens up new possibilities for communication where it simply wouldn’t have been feasible using previous technologies. For instance, the Department of Defenses tested the Molar Mic rigorously under a variety of harsh conditions. In one, a pararescue-man was helping airlift an injured civilian into a helicopter hovering directly above. He needed to communicate with his colleagues in the helicopter, and the Molar Mic made it possible to maintain clear communication, even above the sounds of the rotor blades and a major storm in the background.
“The intent of the development contract that the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Sonitus is to field test Molar Mic further, refine it, and then move it on to full production,” Hadrovic continued. “The U.S. Air Force is spearheading this next phase of field test. There’s no hard date on when those tests will be concluded.”
Sadly, customers wanting this kind of tech for consumer purposes are likely to be waiting a bit longer. “We’re dedicated to completing this development phase with the DOD and U.S. Air Force, and won’t be thinking much about moving into commercial markets until we complete this phase,” Hadrovic said.