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U.S. Air Force awarded U.S. patent for earpiece system developed by the 711 HPW

  • Published
  • By Elizabeth Long
  • 711th Human Performance Wing
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded a patent to the U.S. Air Force for its award-winning Attenuating Custom Communications Earpiece System (ACCES®).

The Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, Human Effectiveness Directorate, Warfighter Interface Division, Battlespace Acoustics Branch (711 HPW/RHCB) partnered with Westone Laboratories, Inc. to develop the deep-insert, custom-molded ACCES hearing protection technology under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

Integrated with a standard military flight helmet or headset, ACCES provides acoustic protection and clear voice reception amidst hazardous noise generated by aircraft. Noise levels in military aircraft can reach up to 125 decibels, making it hard for pilots to hear mission critical communications and eventually causing permanent hearing loss.

The 711 HPW/RHCB and Westone team originally developed the technology to pass F-22 requirements. Raptor test pilots praised the design as flight tests demonstrated success under all flight conditions and for all communication extremes. Development continued under a Defense Technology Objective.

The technology integrates a ruggedized cable assembly and miniature speakers with a set of vented custom poured deep insert earpieces for a superior fit. Impressions of the ears are captured and then sent to Westone.

ACCES has been approved by Air Combat Command for use aboard all fighters and bombers. Testing is currently underway aboard airlift and rotary wing aircraft.

ACCES received the Federal Laboratories Consortium Award for Technology Transfer in 2006.

Since 2005, nearly 5,000 ACCES sets have been delivered, truly giving airmen "access" to improved human performance.