Category Archives: Uncategorized

Airbus to display resilient PMR communications infrastructures and solutions at ShieldAfrica 2017

ShieldAfrica was started in 2013 and is a security conference for institutional and private operators to meet with companies to promote products and ideas, this years (2017) main theme is Safe Cities, component of Smart Cities, driving investment and economic development to the concept of connected and safer cities. Airbus are turning up to this years exhibition and they are showing off their PMR infrastructures, the source of the article is here, but you can read the whole lot below

To support the economic development of African societies and governments in a challenging security context, Airbus Defence and Space will show its latest radiocommunications technologies at the exhibition “ShieldAfrica” in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, in late January 2017.

Police, firefighters, and rescue services in Africa are increasingly in demand of more advanced and secured mobile communication tools. “ShieldAfrica” serves as a platform to discuss security applications which require sophisticated Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) technology on the continent.

Secure communications infrastructures

“Government organisations, such as police and emergency first responder services, need secure communications infrastructures for the whole of their national territory and also for critical sites, such as airports, ports and stadiums,” says Philippe Devos, Head of Strategic Campaigns and Government Affairs of Secure Land Communications at Airbus. “We can offer the needed communication means in Africa based on our profound experience as a world-leading PMR provider.”

African security and defence sectors

“Shieldafrica” is a key event for the African security and defence sectors and hosts the major players in this field, for instance African governments, the global security and defence industry and representatives of diplomacy. Besides showing newest achievements in mission critical communications, Airbus will also showcase the following solutions:

  • Tetra digital radio systemsassociated with modern command and control applications and handheld radios can support effectively shared network deployment models. With these systems at hand, dispatching positions of vehicles or persons can be managed easily by geolocalising Tetra subscribers or groups.
  • The Tactilon Agnetapp brings Tetra push-to-talk to an LTE smartphone. It allows users of commercial LTE networks to communicate securely within mission-critical Tetra networks.
  • The Tactilon Dabat, a smartphone and full Tetra radio in one device, enables users, such as police or firefighters, to operate securely with multimedia functions.

Providing interoperability

For more than 25 years, Airbus has equipped various governments around the world with resilient PMR communications infrastructures and solutions. The company has a proven track record of nationwide deployments providing interoperability to all security users organisations.

Here Are Our 7 Best Headsets You Can Use At Your Venue

There are many instances where people get confused when talking about types of headsets and the associated equipment. In this article, we are going to help you get a clear understanding of the different types of headsets and the associated equipment. With that said, it is important to note that the names that have been given below, are the actual names that need to be used. Without any further ado, lets get started;

In Ear Monitors

Also known as in-ear (or canal) headphones, these devices sit inside the user’s ear canal, and they deliver great sound quality; they ensure a controlled and precise sound. They also fill the ear’s entrance, thus are very effective at sealing out any unwanted external noise. These devices include a transmitter which is controlled by an audio engineer which then transmits to the belt-pack on the user. The in ear monitors allow freedom of movement and are commonly used by modern pop artists. They’re very small and allow them to comfortably hear the rest of the band, and also themselves (this is what’s known as monitoring or foldback). Apart from artists, these devices are commonly used by audio engineers to hear the mix of the vocals and the stage instrumentation for recording studio mixing and/or live performance.

Two Way Radio Headsets

2 way radio headset is a communication device which can transmit and also receive signals. A two way radio headset allows the user to communicate with other people with similar Two way radio headsets (and are operating on the same channel or radio frequency). 2 way radio headsets are readily available in mobile and also hand held portable configurations . The handheld 2 way radio headsets are also known as walkie talkie headsets or handie talkies. One thing to note about two way radio headsets, is that the user can either transmit or receive signals and not both at the same time.

2 Way Radio Covert Pieces

These are quite similar to the Two way radios, however, they are much more discreet. Two way radio covert earpieces are usually used by security personnel as they prefer staying discreet. This type of walkie talkie headset is also ideal for the Door supervisors and security staff.

Wired Show Comms

Unlike 2 way radios, these type of communication systems allow for both talking and listening even at the same time. These devices have a closed cup design, meaning they fully cover the ear which helps reduce the ambient noise. Wired show comms come in single muff and double muff versions. They get attached to the belt pack controller which is then physically wired to the system. Because of the cabling that’s involved in wired show comms, there’s less mobility thus are best suited for managers and the static technicians. These specialist communication devices are also commonly used for calling shows.

Wireless Show Comms

These are very similar to the wired Show Comms, only difference is that their belt packs are wireless. The device and the belt pack are compatible which means that the users can freely and comfortably move around, thus are ideal for stage managers, front of house managers, among others. Just like the wired show comms, these devices also allow both talking and listening at the same. With that said, you should know that the wireless show comms are relatively more expensive than the wired show comms. Some of the other applications for these devices include, but not limited to; security personnel, broadcast, marines, theater, and colleges. They can also serve as convenient walkie talkie headset for events.

Radio Performer Headset

This is the device that’s used by presenters and performers. This device allows for the user’s voice to get fed into the sound system where the audience can get to hear them. This device is usually used in conjunction with the radio belt pack system. Most of the devices used today are generally very thin and skin colored which helps reduce visibility when the performer is on stage.

Presenter Talkback

These are the small ear pieces which you see the lead presenters on TV talk shows wearing. This device allows the producer (of that particular TV talkshow or program), to communicate to the lead presenter and update them on the show’s progress. This may be done using a system known as in ear monitoring. Alternatively, wireless show comms systems can also be used.

Growth of Global Hearing Amplifiers Market Driven by Increase in the Number of Prevalence of Hearing Impairment Patients in Old and Young Population

We found this article and couldn’t not post this to our blog, it shows how hearing damage is on the upsurge. With cases of hearing loss growing every year, hearing amplifiers and hearing aids sales have consistently increased. There doesn’t seems to be an answer to this rise but as technology improves, answers can come that way.

Hearing loss can occurs when inner ear or nerve is damaged, which may be caused due to diseases, aging, loud noise, and medications. Hearing amplifier is a small part of hearing aid which makes the sound louder. Hearing amplifiers increase the power of signals and then send them to the ear through speakers.

Hearing aid is useful in improving the hearing and speech of patients. An otolaryngologist investigates the cause of the hearing loss. An audiologist is a hearing health professional who identifies and measures hearing loss and will perform a hearing test to assess the type and degree of hearing loss.

Increase in number of hearing impairment cases coupled with rising costs of hearing aids are expected to drive the growth of the global hearing amplifiers market during the forecast period. Majority of the consumers use hearing amplifiers or personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) as they are considered cheaper alternatives of hearing aids. Hearing amplifiers or PSAPs, are designed to amplify sounds in any recreational environment and are exempt from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hearing amplifiers are sold directly to consumers as electronic devices without the requirement of a physician prescription.

According to National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately 324,200 cochlear implants have been implanted worldwide. About 15 percent of Americans (26 million people) between the ages of 20 and 69 have high frequency hearing loss due to exposure to noise at work or during leisure activities. Major driving factors for the growth of the global hearing amplifiers such as an increase in the number of prevalence of hearing impairment patients in old and young population, increasing investment in research and development in ENT field among others.

Based on styles or design types of hearing aid products the global market of hearing amplifiers can be segmented as follows:

-Behind-the-ear (BTE)

-Mini BTE

-In-the-ear (ITE)

-In-the-canal (ITC)

Based on function the global hearing amplifiers market can be segmented as follows:

-Analog hearing aids

-Digital hearing aids

Based on distribution channels the global hearing amplifiers market can be segmented as follows:

-Hospital Pharmacies

-Online Pharmacies

-Independent Pharmacies and Drug stores

Hearing amplifiers market is segmented into five major regions: North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and Middle East & Africa. In 2015, North America lead the global market of hearing amplifiers followed by the Europe in terms of revenue. According to statistics compiled by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 37.5 million adults aged 18 and older in America report some form of hearing loss.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids and more than 90 percent of deaf children are born to parents suffering from some kind of hearing disorder. Globally, the hearing amplifiers market is expected to witness a healthy CAGR in terms of revenue during the forecast period.

Latin America, Middle East & Africa and Asia Pacific regions are the emerging markets in the global hearing amplifiers market. Increasing awareness among the various distribution channels as well as consumers in these regions is anticipated to propel global market growth of hearing aids and amplifiers during the forecast period.

The key players in the global market develop hearing amplifiers in analog and digital forms. Some of the top companies in the global hearing amplifiers market are Sound Hawk, Resound, Foshan Vohom Technology Co. Ltd., Sound world solution, Shenzhen LA Lighting Company Limited, Austar Hearing Science and Technology (Xiamen) Co., Ltd., Huizhou Jinghao Electronics Co. Ltd., Ziphearing among others.

Yankees Joe Girardi believes earpieces would help speed up pace of play

Here is the UK we commonly see coaches and physios on the football (soccer) bench wearing earpieces to communicate with each other, But this Baseball Coach wants to give the players an earpiece to improve player-to-coach communications. His argument is good, but will he be allowed?

Earlier in the week, Major League Baseball elected to remove the four-pitch sequence of the intentional walk from the game in order to speed up the pace of play. On Thursday, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi threw his two cents into the ring regarding the current pace of play.

However, the veteran skipper did not comment on the recent rule change surrounding the intentional walk but rather the potential for hitters to wear an earpiece similar to that of NFL quarterbacks.

“As far as the pace of the game I am a big proponent of trying to introduce some type of communication through headphones like they do in the NFL, Girardi said on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “I think you can speed the game up that way.

In the NFL, quarterbacks are notorious for having a speaker inside their helmet while players on the defensive side of the football now have such technology in their helmets as well.

“You put earpieces in certain people,” he added. “Realistically you could put it in your hitters helmets and you could say what you wanted. Then its not a sign from me to the third base coach and a sign to the player. Instead of catchers always going out to change signs they could do it through communication. I think you could speed the game up a lot that way. The thing about signs is that signs take time and it slows it down.

However, many have argued that the removal of the four-pitch intentional walk was also parting ways with the potential for human error. Wouldnt the same be true for the lack of signs if Girardis earpiece system were implemented?

A player can very easily misinterpret a sign along the way, which could cause a difference in the game due to human error. Although many fans and people outside of the game would probably have less of an opinion regarding the managers new approach, it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy these days.

Radio Earpieces: 8 Top Tips For Choosing The Right One

When choosing a radio earpiece, there are several factors that should be considered. A radio earpiece should not only aid in communication it should also protect the user’s ear against cumulative ear damage that may eventually result in ear loss. Below are the factors that you should consider when buying a radio earpiece;

1) Clarity of communication

The most important reason as to why you have a radio is for clear communication and this is what your radio earpiece should enhance. Although there are several radio earpieces out there, many of them use bone conduction when transmitting the user’s speech meaning that they heavily rely on vibrations of one’s skull as they talk. This does not help much in ensuring that the communications are clear especially when one is on the move.

You should therefore go for a system whose in-ear microphone does not use bone conduction and this will enhance the sound clarity. Such a system can even transmit speeches when one is whispering and this comes in handy especially when in an environment where secrecy is very crucial.

2) Comfort

It is very important to select a system that you feel comfortable with most importantly when you are to wear it on your head. Note that, you will probably be wearing the gear for long hours and that is why it should be of lightweight and should not in any way interfere with your eye wear or helmet.

Avoid heavy, sweaty and coiled tube earpieces that are very uncomfortable and will cause ear fatigue. Instead, go for a radio earpiece whose microphone is built into the earbud itself. Such earpieces come in various shapes and sizes and can even be customized to fit the specific needs of a user. Note that, military-grade materials are specifically designed to be of lightweight.

3) Durability

Durability is a very important factor that should be considered when choosing a radio earpiece. You obviously don’t want to be wasting your time and money going back to look for another earpiece just because the one you chose did not last. This is why it is very important to select a system that is durable and has been tested for rugged use of a soldier or a SWAT officer. Go for one whose manufacturer is experienced in manufacturing earpieces that can withstand water, dirt, shock and even extreme temperatures.

4) Ease of use

Your radio earpiece should be easy to use because you can’t afford to mess up with the push-to-talk or the on & off buttons especially when on the move. Your gear should immediately fit into your actions with minimum effort. Look at the operational and the ergonomic features of the various radio earpieces and make sure that all its features are both of the right sizes and in the right places.

5) Hearing protection

Claims related to hearing loss and its related disabilities is on the rise among police & military veterans and this has led to the need for hearing protection for officers. Note that, hearing loss occurs cumulatively over time and it is irreversible. This is in addition to the fact that it has been associated with cognitive decline and that is why even the minor hearing loss can have a huge impact in the course of time. Select a radio earpiece that not only ensures effective communication, but also the hearing safety of the user.

6) Situational awareness

An earpiece is basically meant to keep you focused and keep your hands free. You should be aware of what is happening in their surrounding and that is why a radio earpiece should allow one to hear sounds that are outside, to stay alert with their surroundings.

In order to have full communications (just like one would have without anything in their ears), it is wise to choose a radio earpiece that has an external microphone . There are systems that even enable you to adjust volume of the external microphone and this ensures that you are aware of the happenings in your surroundings.

7) Modularity & Compatibility

There are several systems that are available out there and you should look for one that fits your requirements. As mentioned above, some of them can be customized to fit an individual user’s specific needs so you can never run out of options.

A radio earpiece that has a modular connector is good as you can change it to match even a different radio without having to replace the entire system. Some systems can even go with both earbuds and over-the-ear earpieces so depending on your needs, select the appropriate system.

8) Affordability

Many years ago radio earpieces cost £100 and upwards, these days you can get a D-ring earpiece for less than £15 and an acoustic tube for about £25. Bone conductor earpieces that were previously and expensive piece of technology, can be yours for about £40.

Motorola Solutions’ digital two-way radio technology enhances mission-critical communications at Munich airport

Motorola solutions are a company well known for their robust two way radios and for building world class communication structures. Improving on the current TETRA system with an IP dispatch console and piloting the WAVE system, that allows a phone app to connect to the radio system, for communicating of site. You can read more about what Motorola are doing for Munich below and you can find the original article here.

Motorola Solutions has received an order to implement a comprehensive update and extension of its existing TETRA digital two-way radio system at Munich Airport.

The newly modernized communications infrastructure ensures greater connectivity, interoperability and collaboration between various business and operational functions at Germany’s second largest airport. Motorola Solutions will also provide services for ensuring smooth operations.

Within the framework of the TETRA radio network refresh, Motorola Solutions is equipping the airport with a new MCC 7500 IP Dispatch Console. The comprehensive, scalable solution enhances the IP architecture to ensure optimum call set up and availability. It will also allow Munich Airport to expand its communications infrastructure in the future without interrupting existing services. As well as this, Motorola Solutions will implement two TETRA base stations for improved TETRA radio coverage in the terminal buildings.

Alongside the improvements to the TETRA system, the airport has started a pilot project for the potential introduction of Motorola Solutions’ broadband push-to-talk (PTT) platform WAVE. The goal of the installation is to ensure that airport staff can communicate, no matter which device or infrastructure is being used. The powerful PTT solution WAVE™ Work Group Communications provides airport authorities with secure and reliable communications beyond TETRA radio – including broadband devices and networks – to enable greater workforce connectivity, interoperability and collaboration. WAVE connects the TETRA system used by administrative staff with service management employees who join the broadband platform via smartphones, computers, other radios or telephones, meaning that staff across the airport can communicate with one another from virtually any location.

“We have been working with Motorola Solutions’ TETRA two-way digital radio system since 2007,” said Michael Zaddach, head of the IT service division at Flughafen München GmbH. “The update of our TETRA infrastructure enables us to further improve our communications in airport operations and make our processes even more efficient.”

“We are collaborating closely with Munich Airport to provide a future-proof TETRA digital two-way radio network,” said Klaus-Dieter Drossel, sales director for key accounts, Motorola Solutions Germany GmbH. “We are also pleased that Munich Airport is testing our broadband push-to-talk platform WAVE, and we are certain that it will enable airport staff to work together more closely, no matter which device or network they use.”

MIT’s new method of radio transmission could one day make wireless VR a reality

VR is the Buzz word for this year, every technology company clambering to get their headset out on to the market. Much of the market needs to catch-up though, the power of home computing needs to improve and removing the inevitable extra cabling and wires that come with current headsets. Luckily this article is about the future technology of VR headsets, see what we can expect as this technology grows.

If you want to use one of today’s major VR headsets, whether the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the PS VR, you have to accept the fact that there will be an illusion-shattering cable that tethers you to the small supercomputer that’s powering your virtual world.

But researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) may have a solution in MoVr, a wireless virtual reality system. Instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transmit data, the research team’s MoVR system uses high-frequency millimeter wave radio to stream data from a computer to a headset wirelessly at dramatically faster speeds than traditional technology.

There have been a variety of approaches to solving this problem already. Smartphone-based headsets such as Google’s Daydream View and Samsung’s Gear VR allow for untethered VR by simply offloading the computational work directly to a phone inside the headset. Or the entire idea of VR backpacks, which allow for a more mobile VR experience by building a computer that’s more easily carried. But there are still a lot of limitations to either of these solutions.

THE MOVR PROTOTYPE SIDESTEPS TETHERED VR ISSUES

Latency is the whole reason a wireless solution hasn’t worked so far. VR is especially latency-sensitive, along with the huge bandwidth requirements that VR needs to display the level of high-resolution video required for virtual reality to work. But the MIT team claims that the millimeter wave signals can transmit fast enough to make a wireless VR headset feasible.

The issue with using millimeter wave technology is that the signal needs a direct line of sight, and fares poorly when it encounters any obstacles. MoVR gets around this by working as a programmable mirror that can direct the direction of the signal to the headset even while it’s moving to always make sure the signal is transmitting directly to the headset’s receivers.

For now, the MoVR is simply a prototype, with the team hoping to further shrink down the system to allow for multiple wireless headsets in one room without encountering signal interference. But even as a proof-of-concept, it’s an interesting perspective on how virtual reality could one day work.

Chinese corporation bids to acquire Sepura

This news is making quite a buzz within the stock market forums, With two of our big players in our industry set to merge, this is huge news! Yes, Sepura have had their problems this year and Hytera have increased their market share, but we are not sure is this is good news or bad?

Another Asian corporation is set to hoover up a Cambridge UK technology company in a state of financial flux.

Communications technology business Sepura confirms it is in talks with Chinese company Hytera Communications Corporation Ltd.

It will be an all-cash deal but the acquisition price will be moderate because digital radios company Sepura is in a mess because of cash liquidity issues.

Sepura revealed the takeover talks after its share price spiked more than 25 per cent having nosedived in recent times due to cashflow issues and order delays.

Hytera is a world leading solution provider of professional mobile radio communications and operates globally.

Late today, Sepura issued a statement on London Stock Exchange confirming it was in preliminary talks with Hytera regarding a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of the company.

Hytera confirmed to the Sepura board that any offer was likely to be solely in cash. The usual caveats were issued that there was no certainty any deal would go through and shareholders would be updated on new developments.

Founded in 1993 in Shenzhen, China, Hytera has grown to be a key player in the PMR (Professional Mobile Radio) communication industry with a large customer base in more than 120 countries and regions across the world.

In China, Hytera’s market share ranks first among Chinese manufacturers while globally Hytera has reached second place in the overall terminal category.

As one of the few corporations that masters TETRA, DMR and PDT technologies, and produces all series of products and solutions of all these mainstream digital protocols, Hytera leads in the draft of digital trunking standard in China.

Its acquisition of the Rohde & Schwarz TETRA business in August 2011 further strengthened its competitive edge in TETRA market.

Hytera has established a global sales network with 30 branches in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil and other territories and through  600+ partners across the world.

Hytera has an R & D team of over 1200 engineers in five research centres. Sepura won the Business Weekly Awards Business of the Year title in March after a record-breaking

2015 but hit liquidity problems this summer and has temporarily lost its CEO Gordon Watling to ill health.

http://www.businessweekly.co.uk/news/hi-tech/chinese-corporation-bids-acquire-sepura

Software Defined Radio (SDR) Market Forecast By End-use Industry 2014-2020

We are seeing a monumental movement in the radio communication industry, as this very technical article shows the transition from hardware to software within the radio communication industry is just around the corner. With 3G and 4G providing Data and Voice Comms covering large distances, RF communication will find it hard to compete, the simple answer seems to be Tetra, but is that long term? There will always be a need for point to point communications, but larger comms infrastructures could possibly be managed in a different way.

With the evolution of digital electronics the radio market and communication technologies have evolved a lot. Though the concept of software defined radio (SDR) is not new, in the recent years, this market has undergone many changes in terms of technology and uses. SDR is a type of radio communication system where communication is carried out by the use of software on embedded system or personal computer instead of implementing hardware such as filters, amplifiers, mixers, detectors, demodulators and modulators, among others. SDR are capable of transmitting and receiving a wide spectrum of frequency. When the data from a source is converted into digital format, the remaining activities involved in radio communications are carried out with the help of software driven automated functions.

SDR optimizes the tactical information system as embedded software used in SDR helps in the dynamic selection of the communication channel. The number of digital service users is increasing resulting into the improved adoption rate of software defined radio. Public safety, military and commercial use are the three major end-use applications of SDR systems. The demand for SDRs in expected to increase in coming years owing to efficiency and cost effectiveness offered by them. The industry has undergone transformation from analog to digital. Thus, the advance capabilities of digital radio are expected to drive the growth of SDR market. Multiple regulations govern the SDR market and this affects the market growth and trends. For instance, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) legally created a newer class for equipment of SDRs that had streamlined equipment authorization procedure.

Military modernization programs being carried out by several countries such as South Korea, India, Germany, Japan and the U.S and the interoperability provided by SDR are major driving forces for SDR market. The issues faced in the integration of the various sub systems pose a challenge to the SDR market. Further, the development of software platforms, technologies and tools, which allow flexible specification, design and implementation of radio systems, is another significant challenge. Players in software defined radio market have potential opportunity in technical advancements of SDR technology such as resolving the problem of frequency congestion, wide frequency range (spectrum) and improved broadcasting services in future.

Software defined radio market is segmented on the basis of type, end-user application and geography. On the basis of type of SDR, the market is segmented into ideal software defined radio, baseband software defined radio (BBSDR) and high frequency software defined radio (HFSDR). On the basis of end-user industry, SDR market is segmented into defense industry, telecom industry, manufacturing plants, public safety vendors and personal use. U.S. Canada, Japan, France, Brazil, South Korea, India, Germany and Italy have emerged as the leading countries for software defined radio market.

Some of the key vendors in software defined radio market are BAE Systems PLC, Elbit Systems Ltd., IndraSistemas, L3 Communications Corporation, Raytheon Co., Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co KG, Thales Group, Viasat Incorporated, SAAB AB, Rockwell Collins, Northrop Grumman Corp., ITT Corporation, Harris Corporation and Datasoft Corporation, among others.

This research report presents a comprehensive assessment of the market and contains thoughtful insights, facts, historical data and statistically-supported and industry-validated market data and projections with a suitable set of assumptions and methodology. It provides analysis and information by categories such as market segments, regions, product type and distribution channels.

Offering workers hearing protection options

Much Like Protecting your sight or looking after your health, your hearing should also be protected, this article tackles hearing protection within the workplace and what type of earplugs are best, Enjoy.

OSHA regulations dictate we offer a “variety” of hearing protectors to noise-exposed workers. What is best practice for providing a variety while keeping inventory to a minimum?

Per CFR 1910.95(i)(3), “Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.” But does “variety of suitable hearing protectors” mean two or 10, earplugs or earmuffs, different colors or different sizes?

The wrong approach is to choose a variety based on factors that have no effect on protecting hearing, including the published noise reduction rating. Some safety managers offer several different large foam earplugs that are yellow, green and orange – mistakenly assuming they meet the “variety” requirement and not realizing that a significant portion of their workforce will never achieve an adequate fit with a large foam earplug. In those cases, their supposed “variety” actually limits the number of workers adequately protected.

This bad assumption is often codified into company safety policies that require a minimum NRR: “Approved hearing protectors must have an NRR of at least 32 decibels,” or similar criteria. By definition, that typically means a large foam earplug. Despite the higher NRR based on 10 laboratory test subjects, workers with smaller ear canals will never achieve an adequate fit with those large foam earplugs to stop noise-induced hearing loss.

What are the factors that affect good fit of an earplug?

  • Size: Like a cork in a bottle, an earplug that is too large or too small will never achieve an acoustic seal to protect hearing. Offering a variety of sizes significantly improves the percentage of employees obtaining a good fit.
  • Shape: Ear canal openings may appear round, oval or slit. A foam earplug often fills an oval or slit opening better than pre-molded earplugs.
  • Ease of insertion: Some workers have difficulty rolling or inserting foam earplugs due to lack of mobility. For these workers, an earplug with a stem may be easier to insert.

Based on thousands of fit tests administered to workers in the field, the following four earplug styles provide a selection that would adequately protect nearly every worker:

  • Large foam earplug
  • Smaller foam earplug
  • Large reusable earplug
  • Smaller reusable earplug

The good news is that offering a variety does not necessarily increase cost. Buying 1,000 earplugs of one style or 250 earplugs of four different styles is fairly equivalent in cost. But the bigger variety significantly increases the probability that more workers will be adequately protected.

Many worksites adjust their inventory based on results of their fit-testing of hearing protectors. By reviewing which earplugs repeatedly provide the best fit, these companies identify the gaps or duplications in their offering and can adjust accordingly. Sometimes, this means adding a smaller-size earplug, but many times companies find they can remove some less-effective earplugs from their inventory. It’s not necessary to carry a dozen different earplug styles.

Finally, any offering of hearing protection needs a hands-on training component. How can a workers determine whether their ear canal is large or small, round or oval? It’s impossible to view your own ear canal opening in a mirror. A quick glance by a safety trainer can be of tremendous benefit in helping workers select the right earplug the first time.