Yes, it’s true: You are hearing through your tooth

Yes, it’s true: You are hearing through your tooth

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One of the exhibit floors at the AUSA exposition and conference, with 700 exhibitors and 10 international pavilions. (Tom Squitieri/TMN)

WASHINGTON — You may have heard folks over the years talk about getting radio signals in their teeth, some possibly from aliens. Tooth fillings have been accused of being the transmission culprit — silver perhaps yes, gold and amalgam absolutely no.

Well today, fillings as possible communication assistants have been displaced by a wireless tooth microphone, custom-made for the individual. The device, called Tooth Comms, permits dialogue without worries about wires or face masks, deep water, helicopter noise, free-falling from an airplane or any of the usual encumbrances.

A dentist is still involved.

The Tooth Comms Radio by Sonitus is one of about 700 items and offerings on display and being pitched at the three-day Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exhibition and conference in Washington, which ends Wednesday. The big-ticket items are obvious to all who attend, yet along the sides and in the nooks of the exhibit halls are the stuff some dreams are made of.

For example, there is new facial recognition for cameras and smart phones — right near a booth with new ways to block cameras on computers. There are drones of many sizes, colors and uses, and there are a few new ways to stop them. There are breakthrough devices to protect computer systems from prying eyes and, nearby, very precise night-vision goggles to see almost everything.

The tooth communicator uses bone conduction through the teeth to the inner ear so the wearer can speak and hear.

“It’s like a dental implant,” Jeff Hakki of Federal Resources said Wednesday. “They build a mold of your tooth; a dentist comes to make it fit like a crown.”

Not like a root canal, it was made clear. The device clips onto the selected tooth.

Federal Resources, a single-source provider of customized equipment, was displaying Tooth Comms.

Hakki said it takes between eight and 12 hours for the piece to get fully adjusted to the user and for the individual’s voice to become distinctive for Tooth Comms so words are accurately conveyed.

The tiny wireless microphone clips onto a back tooth. The device uses bone conduction through the teeth to the inner ear so the wearer can speak and hear. (Courtesy: Sonitus Technologies)

According to Sonitus Technologies’ website, the technology establishes an audio path “supersense” for wireless communication. That eliminates any requirement for microphones, wires, earpieces and other hardware.

The clip-on device is designed to function independent of any other equipment being used such as hearing protection, helmets and breathing devices, company material say.

Hakki said the FBI, U.S. border patrol, the Drug Enforcement Agency and some military special forces are already using Tooth Comms, among others. He said the test units will be replaced for free when upgraded final versions are ready.

Since the device uses a lithium battery, special permission had to be granted for the Navy to test it with divers, Hakki said. Lithium batteries and water are a potentially explosive combination.

Hakki said tests show Tooth Comms working clearly 10 meters underwater, with expectations of increasing the range to 100 meters. He also said it has worked very well in free-falls from aircraft — where wind is a challenge to clear communication — and in high-noise areas, such as under a Chinook helicopter with rotaries going full-force.

The current unit price is $17,900. Hakki said it will soon drop to $8,000 with an ultimate price goal of $3,000. At least for now, the device is not being sold to civilians.

Courtesy: Sonitus Technologies

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