Design and Development of a Portable Auditory Situation Awareness Training (PASAT) System

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Systems Engineering

Publication Date

Spring 5-23-2021

Publication Title

IIE Annual Conference Proceedings

Document Type



Auditory situation awareness (ASA) is essential for safety and survivability in military operations where many of the hazards are not immediately visible. Unfortunately, the Hearing Protection Devices (HPDs) required to operate in these environments can impede auditory localization performance. Promisingly, recent studies have exhibited the plasticity of the human auditory system by demonstrating that training can improve auditory localization ability while wearing HPDs, including military Tactical Communications and Protective Systems (TCAPS). As a result, the U.S. military identified the need for a portable system capable of imparting auditory localization acquisition skills at similar levels to those demonstrated in laboratory environments. The purpose of this investigation was to design and develop a Portable Auditory Situation Awareness Training (PASAT) system capable of reproducing acoustically accurate localization cues similar to a proven laboratory grade system. Extensive research of components and equipment helped ensure optimal performance and packaging of the PASAT system. Selection of these components included a formal decision algorithm developed for optimizing component selection decisions for human-equipment systems. The innovative PASAT system consists of an accordion-style, collapsible frame housing 32-loudspeaker capable of training 360-degrees of azimuth and 60-degrees of elevation operated by a user-controlled tablet computer. Two human factors experiments and a usability study demonstrated the effectiveness of the PASAT system to test and train localization and to detect differences in performance between hearing protection devices.

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