Digital Ear Canal Scanning Technology
Navy SBIR FY2008.2

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2008.2
Topic No.: N08-153
Topic Title: Digital Ear Canal Scanning Technology
Proposal No.: N082-153-0037
Firm: Physical Optics Corporation
Applied Technologies Division
20600 Gramercy Place, Bldg.100
Torrance, California 90501
Contact: Paul Shnitser
Phone: (310) 320-3088
Web Site:
Abstract: To address the Navy need for a more accurate and robust digital technology for the measurement of ear canal geometry and improvement of the fit and noise attenuation of individual earplugs for flight deck teams, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new Digital Ear Canal Scanning Technology (DECST). This non-contact, not ionizing technology is based on en-face Optical Coherent Tomography. The innovations in optical design and image processing algorithms will enable measuring ear canal geometry in less than three minutes with an accuracy better than 0.01 mm, and mapping the underlying tissues. This digital technology will allow improved computer earplug design, easy data dissemination and archiving, and onsite earplug fabrication using already developed digital stereo-lithography. It will greatly reduce the logistic burden associated with equipment maintenance for crew noise protection. In Phase I, POC will demonstrate the DECST feasibility by the design, assembly, and demonstration of operation of the experimental prototype. In Phase II, POC plans to develop an engineering prototype and obtain protocol approval for testing the prototype operation on humans.
Benefits: The development of the robust and relatively inexpensive DECS technology will close the technology gap in the fabrication of individual noise protection and hearing aid devices, allowing one-step, fast, and precise measurements of ear canal geometry. The technology will be fully compatible with industry standards and facilitate better computer-assisted design of hearing protection and hearing aid devices for all military services, industrial workers, and the general population. The potential cost reduction of the hearing aid devices achievable with DECS technology will especially benefit the aging population of American citizens and reduce the Medicare and Medicaid burden.