Paris. 12 June 2018. How to allow the soldier to stay alert and connected to his radio while protecting him from harmful noises? The solution is called BANG, an innovation developed by the French-German Research Institute of St. Louis (ISL) in partnership with the SME Cotral. It is supported by the French Defence Procurement Agency (Direction générale de l’armement – DGA). It has just been successfully tested by Army experts.
BANG is an earplug, printed in 3D, exactly adapted to the shape of the ear canal, which attenuates dangerous, impulse and continuous noises, without cutting the soldier from his environment. With BANG the perception of speech and surrounding noise is limited to 80 dB, so avoiding lesions or auditory fatigue. Easy to put on, it remains stable and comfortable for long-lasting wear. The system is compatible with the radio sets in service in the French Army.
For radio communication, the voice is taken directly by the microphone located inside the ear. It is thus protected from ambient noise. During an evaluation conducted by the technical section of the French Army (STAT) in March 2018, BANG earplugs were put to the test, either onboard an armored infantry fighting vehicle (VBCI), at the shooting range, or during a pedestrian reconnaissance mission.
BANG’s first operational experimenters reported a real sense of hearing protection while staying connected to their environment. This is exactly the goal. The prototypes will be further optimized in the coming months to take account of this first feedback from the field. New functionalities are being validated in the ISL laboratories: anti noise active against low frequencies, the spatialization of radio communications to further discriminate speakers, the noise dosimeter to collect the level of exposure on a combat day, and monitoring physiological parameters like heart rate.
In parallel, COTRAL declines BANG in a civil version called “Bionear” to protect workers while allowing them to stay connected to their environment.