Wireless and Passive Noise Measurement and Earplug Evaluation System
Navy SBIR FY2013.1

Sol No.: Navy SBIR FY2013.1
Topic No.: N131-012
Topic Title: Wireless and Passive Noise Measurement and Earplug Evaluation System
Proposal No.: N131-012-0181
Firm: Physical Optics Corporation
Electro-Optics Systems Division
1845 West 205th Street
Torrance, California 90501-1510
Contact: Ninad Patnekar
Phone: (310) 320-3088
Web Site: www.poc.com
Abstract: To address the Navy's need for a miniature wireless earplug-integrated sensor, Physical Optics Corporation (POC) proposes to develop a new Wireless and Passive Noise Measurement and Earplug Evaluation Sensor (WIPAS) system This system is based on an innovative surface acoustic wave (SAW)-based passive and wireless pressure sensor and an acoustic sensor that is small enough (2x2x4 mm) to be inserted in and removed from the ear canal. These sensors wirelessly interface with the WIPAS system's compact external interrogator unit. The WIPAS system works both as an earplug fit/performance evaluator and as a noise dosimeter. The innovations in the WIPAS system allow evaluation and measurement in real time without compromising the earplug, which is currently impossible. Unlike the conventional earplug whose performance typically degrades over time (due to movement, etc), the features offered by the WIPAS enable reliable determination of protection provided to the device wearer. In Phase I, POC will perform modeling and simulation of the SAW sensor, and demonstrate WIPAS feasibility by developing a limited-capability bench-top prototype. This TRL-3 prototype will be experimentally evaluated in laboratory-controlled environment. In Phase II, we plan to build and validate a complete TRL 5-6 system, demonstrate its field worthiness, and evaluate its productization.
Benefits: Commercial applications of WIPAS include practically any workplace where employees are exposed to high levels of noise, such as mining, construction, bars, cinemas, musical bands. A significant application of this system is in the design and development of passive and active hearing-protection devices. WIPAS can be used in all locations where personnel are exposed to environmental noise, such as combat zones, flight decks, and places where occupational noise is the main factor leading to hearing loss and other noise-inducted ailments.