Our sci-fi future is here, and in this version, US service members can make and receive calls through their teeth. That's the gist of Molar Mic, a communications device detailed in a new $10 million Pentagon contract with a California company, Defense One reports. Smithsonian Magazine and CNET lay out how the Sonitus Technologies device works: With a transmitter that's worn around the neck and a tiny custom-fit microphone clipped to a user's upper back molars, the Bluetooth-like system is able to sync up with a telephone, walkie-talkie, or other communications method, and the user will be able to take in communications through his or her jaw and skull bones. "You can hear through your head as if you were hearing through your ear," says Sonitus CEO Peter Hadrovic. He says it's akin to how you hear yourself when you chomp down on crunchy foods.
The mic allows for discreet communications, and can also help individuals stay in communication with team members while in hazardous situations—while they're parachuting out of a plane, say. Prototypes of the device have already been tested in Afghanistan deployments, as well as in rescue efforts in Texas after last year's Hurricane Harvey, per a press release. A Sonitus rep tells Gizmodo it won't extend Molar Mic beyond military use until the Pentagon contract is fulfilled, and there's no timeline yet for when that might be. The Air Force is set to be the first military branch to get a crack at the device, with other branches expected to follow. Sonitus says Molar Mic could have further application down the road for first responders, industrial workers, and security personnel. (Another potential weapon for the military: lasers that can mimic human voices.)