Norway’s energy giant Statoil is working with Nacre, a developer of communication devices mainly for military use, and SINTEF, the country’s largest research institution, to develop communication systems for the offshore oil industry that improve hearing safety. The loud environment on the rigs with its own characteristic sounds can be hard on the ears and difficult on the workers trying to coordinate complicated tasks. The new system monitors overall audio input and suggest time outs to prevent future hearing problems.
The earplug incorporates a mini-loudspeaker and internal and external microphones. In quiet surroundings the earplug “opens”, and the wearer can hear quite normally. When the noise level rises, the device filters out the noise as such, while speech is allowed to pass. Used in conjunction with any radio system, QUIETPRO® is a complete communications terminal for noisy environments. It operates just as well in the engine room of a ship or on board an offshore platform as in a military vehicle.
QUIETPRO Offshore will measure the dose of noise received by the individual operative and emit a warning signal when the upper threshold for noise has been reached and the user should leave the area. The system will also give Statoil unique insight into the actual burden of noise borne by its operatives. Development of the civilian version of the earplug is already under way, and a pilot version will be ready by the end of the year.