The innovative in-mouth radio device developed by California-based Sonitus Technology came one step closer to widespread military deployment with a Phase II contract award from the U.S. Department of Defense this month.The oral device, nicknamed the “Molar Mic,” places a two-way radio headset inside the mouth, on a small device that communicates via Near-Field Magnetic Induction with a “tactical loop” worn around the neck. This tactical loop relays radio signals to a conventional radio headset worn as part of a service member’s kit.
Bone conduction speakers allow users to hear incoming radio messages, while an embedded microphone captures voice inputs. Placing the headset in the mouth solves two problems: it eliminates cumbersome headgear that can interfere with equipment such as ballistic helmets; and it limits the amount of external audio interference that is common in military use cases, including rotor noise from helicopters.
According to an article published on cnet.com, the mouthpiece attaches to the maxillary molars, and is custom-fitted to the wearer.
Sonitus Technology claims that funds from the DoD contract will allow for more extensive field-testing of its patented device in preparation for broader issue across the military (so far it has conducted initial field testing with the Air Force—the 131st Air National Guard Rescue Squadron, out of Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA).
Funding for the prototype was secured through the Defense Innovation Unit, an arm of the DoD launched in 2015 to help the military make faster use of emerging technologies, and to condense what has traditionally been a very long procurement cycle.
There are plenty of reasons to maintain good oral health, but for those aspiring Air Force PJs out there, here’s another one: you may soon be wearing your radio headset inside your mouth.