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Dive Helmet Noise Quieting


OBJECTIVE: Create technologies to reduce the acoustic noise produced by, and transmitted through, dive helmets. DESCRIPTION: Helmeted divers are exposed to high levels of noise. The sources of these noises can be self-generated [1] (e.g., airflow through the demand-regulators during inhalation and bubble noise during exhalation), as well as transmitted through the helmet from underwater tools [2]. While administrative controls (i.e., noise exposure guidance and regulations) are a necessary part of an overall hearing protection strategy, the critical component that determines success depends on our ability to eliminate the effects of various noise sources [3,4]. PHASE I: Determine the feasibility of developing and constructing technologies to reduce the acoustic noise produced by and transmitted through dive helmets (<84 dBA), with appropriate consideration for optimizing the diver"s communication needs. Develop a detailed design of system(s) that will address the noises associated with the various dive helmets currently in use by the U.S. Navy. If deemed necessary, new dive helmet designs will also be considered. PHASE II: Construct physical prototype(s) of the diver helmet noise reduction system. Characterize the system"s acoustic quieting performance. Test the system for operational safety. Produce two final prototypes for testing at the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL) and Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU). PHASE III: Construct production units suitable for certification for the Approved for Navy Use (ANU) List and develop marketing plans for a broad range of customers. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: National and international underwater construction firms and ship"s husbandry companies would clearly benefit from this technology. Respondents should explore these potential markets and seek partnerships with current dive helmet manufacturing companies.
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