In the future, communicating in combat could be as simple as speaking into the microphone on your teeth.
On Tuesday the US Department of Defense sealed a multimillion dollar investment into a futuristic two-way communications system dubbed the "Molar Mic," slated for use by the US Air Force.
Developed by California company Sonitus Technologies, the mouthpiece snaps onto the upper back molars (it's custom fit to each user) and has a wireless rechargeable battery, a waterproof microphone and a bone conduction speaker built in. The mouthpiece sends and receives communications via a wireless "tactical neckloop" that connects to traditional radios and phones.
"Parachuting from high-altitude aircraft, working under a hovering helicopter, swimming in open water, and similar conditions, interfere with traditional communication devices precisely when they are needed most," Sonitus says.
Instead, the Molar Mic's bone conduction speaker relays audio straight to the wearer's inner ear without preventing them from hearing other noise or encumbering them with gear, according to Sonitus.
"The result is an unobstructed head and face, clear communication, higher comfort, enhanced situational awareness and the ability to add or remove personal protective equipment without breaking communication," Sonitus says.
The Molar Mic is set to be deployed first by the US Air Force (with other branches of the military potentially following suit), but Sonitus says the tech could also be used by security personnel, industrial workers or first responders.