The US is rolling out superhuman hearing for its soldiers

Wearable tech could save the hearing of thousands of soldiers.

The hearing system costs $2,000. Image via US Army.

Among many other things, war is loud – especially for infantry. Gunshots, explosions, booms and bangs are part of a soldiers’ life, and even a single gunshot can be devastating to hearing. Prolonged exposure to gunshots often causes irreparable harm, and when you consider that the US has over 20 million veterans, the scale of this problem takes on dramatic proportions.

With that in mind, the US Army has developed a hearing aid that not only boosts the hearing of troops in the field but also filters out unwanted noise from the battlefield. The system, known as Tactical Communication and Protective System (TCAPS), will be rolling out soon to soldiers in the field.

In the past, ear protection was quite rudimentary, and it came at an obvious disadvantage: soldiers lost the ability to hear other useful sounds, like commands. Ear protection also impeded hearing to the point where soldiers couldn’t figure out where sounds were coming from, a vital ability in the heat of battle.

TCAPS is smarter than this – it picks up sounds through a system of microphones and dampens it for the wearer, but in such a way that you can still hear it clearly and figure out where it comes from. At the same time, the decibel cap allows TCAPS-equipped soldiers to hear the voices of others around them, including radio commands.

According to Engadget, about 20,000 TCAPS units have been deployed Army-wide, at a price of about $2,000 a piece.

This sounds like an excellent idea, and to be honest I’m surprised something like this hasn’t been introduced before. But what I’d really like to see is the Army roll out a system like this for veterans as well. I’d like to see them take care of soldiers after their service is done, something which the US seems to be still struggling with.

Here’s a video depicting how it works:

2 thoughts on “The US is rolling out superhuman hearing for its soldiers

  1. Brian

    More war spending than the rest of the world combined, and we can't feed our own people or get them good water. Always more money for war. Our wars are not humanitarian either, they are war profiteering and multinational mercenary support. We are also creating super solders and super cops that the wealthy are using to suppress the population while enforcing austerity.

    We need to stop building the war machines.

  2. gmarmot

    I'm a Vietnam era vet. Although $2,000 seems like a lot of money, it actually is not considering the number of soldiers affected by firearm and explosion hearing loss, and the amount that it costs to diagnose and treat (treatment is almost always limited to hearing aids which are expensive). Also, if its bad enough, lifetime compensation is available, as it should be.
    My hearing was permanently damaged when I served, and its becoming worse as I age; I will soon need hearing aids. Also, my ears have rung constantly since the military. Try adapting to that 24 hours per day, as its not easy.
    When we send people into combat, we should quickly give them every reasonable safety device, for medical as well as economic reasons.

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