TCAPS: U.S. Army's Smart Earplugs
TCAPS: U.S. Army's Smart Earplugs

TCAPS: U.S. Army’s Smart Earplugs (Video)

Since 2014, the U.S. Army has gradually been deploying the latest version of a hearing protection system that protects users from loud noises while still letting them hear the world around them.

The system is called TCAPS, or Tactical Communication and Protective System, and about 20,000 of the new TCAPS devices have been deployed in the field so far.

According to Capt. Jennifer Noetzel, audiology chief, Fort Drum, NY hearing program, the Army’s focus with the TCAPS is to minimize training and battlefield related hearing loss, while improving overall situational awareness, increased mission effectiveness, safety and survivability.

“I’m excited to finally see the TCAPS here in Fort Drum, and pleased to see the Soldiers taking to the devices naturally” said Noetzel.

The Florence, Kentucky native has been serving four years, and although the young Captain has not yet deployed, she admits to having seen and treated a lot of hearing loss cases from redeployed troops as she is the chief audiologist on Fort Drum.

“Soldiers have told me quite openly, the main reason they refused to wear, or partially wear, hearing protection while out on a mission was because it hindered their overall situational awareness. The old foam hearing plugs and other cumbersome devices, while effective in protecting hearing, denied Soldiers the ability to clearly hear commands and possible enemy or friendly movement. Mixed with pulling security, it’s a bad combination that can lead to injury or loss of life” Noetzel said.

The TCAP is the Army program name and accommodates various ear canals in six shapes: standard, slim, large, and short in the three aforementioned sizes. Soldiers can recharge the TCAP through solar, Alternating Current with US standard and international plug/ports, and use of vehicle battery to name a few. The TCAP costs approximately $2,000.00 per device and comes standard with software, Smartphone, instructional manual, warranty, carrying case and other supporting elements.

According to Noetzel, the system not only works to preserve, protect, and enhance hearing, the TCAP is designed to completely take over and shut out unexpected and excruciatingly loud noises, noises such as explosions or overhead flying objects, while simultaneously maintaining communication fidelity.


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