Using ear caps, for those who operate in noisy environments (for example offshore oil rig workers, or soldiers on the frontline who might suffer from damage to their hearing abilities because of the explosions around them), if on one hand protect ears from any possible danger, on the other hand might end up preventing their wearer from hearing what they really need to hear, such as the voices of co-workers and mates around them.
In order to filter out dangerous noises while being able to pick up human voices and useful sounds, a solution comes from Norway, where Nacre has designed QuietPro+, a protective sound cancelling earphone in order to carry out this task. Earphones are connected to a small electronic control unit, which, as soon as it detects a potentially dangeroud loud sound, would in turn emit sound waves.
These sound waves are sent directly into the wearer’s ears via the earphones, and are capable of cancelling the noise generated by explosions. In the same fashion, the digital processor contained in the control unit can increase volume and sharpness of sounds such as human voices, making them clearly audible even in a loud environment.
Initially, QuietPro+ was designed for US armed forces, while currently Nacre, in cooperation with the Norwegian oil company Statoil, is working on a version suitable for those who work on an oil rig, where the type of noise generated by drilling machinery is different from the sound of bombs and bullets, and where the danger of hearing loss is always present due to the continuous noise, which makes it difficult even to have a normal conversation with colleagues, thus increasing the potential risk of accidents.
By improving communications, it could be possible to prevent fatal accidents, for example the one that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.