Zeteo Tech Inc., a venture-backed biodefense and medical device company in Sykesville, announced Wednesday the development of the Canine Auditory Protection System (CAPS), which helps decrease the likelihood of temporary or permanent hearing loss in military working dogs.
The project was developed in collaboration with Dr. Pete “Skip” Scheifele MD, Ph.D., LCDR USN (Ret) of the University of Cincinnati, an animal audiology expert.
It was supported by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command as part of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program managed by the Army Research Office (ARO), an element of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Office.
High noise levels during training, transport, and operations can cause temporary and permanent hearing loss in working dogs, including short helicopter flights. The new technology protects the canine while on missions and can extend the dog’s working life, ARO officials said.
Cumulative exposure can result in permanent hearing loss, reducing the dog’s working life. The CAPS has been tested extensively with military working dogs and Federal law enforcement working dogs. Scheifele has measured the hearing protection effectiveness of the CAPS during helicopter operations and the dog’s short-term hearing loss was significantly reduced.
The CAPS utilizes lightweight, high-quality acoustic absorption materials to block unwanted sounds. Unlike conventional hearing protection, the CAPS is constructed of flexible materials, easily conforming to the unique shape of a canine’s head. This flexibility is key to ensuring proper sealing around the ear and maximum sound reduction. The “Snood” style headgear was designed to uniformly distribute the pressure required to hold the hearing protection in place, avoiding difficulties associated with straps.
Finally, at just over an inch thick, the CAPS low profile will not be a hindrance when working in tight spaces and is compatible with other gear used by working dogs.