User Evaluation of a Bone Conduction Communication Headset During the Patriot 2007 Joint Field Training Exercise

Report No. ARL-TR-5973
Authors: Phuong K. Tran, Mary S. Binseel, and Tomasz R. Letowski
Date/Pages: April 2012; 28 pages
Abstract: Despite many advantages utilizing bone conduction (BC) technology, it has not yet made inroads in military communications applications. Military systems applications need to be subjectively evaluated by Soldiers to assess their utility and acceptance in military environments. In this study, a commercial BC headset was used and evaluated by the National Guard Special Operations Forces (SOF) during the 2007 Joint Field Training Exercise. Five participants wore BC headsets for 40 continuous hours during sustained operations. After completing the mission, the participants rated the BC communication system regarding speech intelligibility (SI), situation awareness, face-to-face communication, comfort, ease of use, and overall satisfaction of the device, and were asked to provide suggestions for improvement. The participants were also asked to rate an air conduction (AC) headset for comparison. The overall rating score for the BC headset was high (5/5) compared to the AC system (2.5/5), indicating the technology was favored over the AC system. The BC headset was chosen over the AC due to its light weight and because it allowed the user to maintain awareness of ambient sound. However, some important issues and suggestions for improvement were raised, including the need to ruggedize the system and to incorporate a quick-disconnect cable.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: April 1, 2012