Several global companies are negotiating to use an invention by a Perth company that prevents noise-induced hearing loss.
Developed by Sensear, which started up last year, the noise-filtering technology isolates speech and suppresses background noise, and is already being tested by workers on mine sites and in pubs.
Chief executive Justin Miller said it may also have military applications.
The Federal Government has recognized its potential by granting Sensear a $1 million AusIndustry Commercial Ready grant to help commercialize the technology.
Invented by researchers at Curtin University and the University of WA through the WA Telecommunications Research Institute, it cuts out background noise which is louder than 85 decibels, typically the same amount of noise a bus passing a pedestrian makes. It is effective to around 115 decibels, which is louder than a typical cement plant.
With around $4.5 billion spent a year in Australia on noise-induced hearing loss, Mr. Miller said there was no similar technology anywhere in the world.
The company has done several trials with major companies including at Rio Tinto's Pilbara iron ore mines and Alcoa's aluminum operation.
Mr. Miller, a past finalist in Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award, said the device had been well received by workers.
"At the end of the day you can have, in safety, a top-down push from corporate management but if the people at the coal face aren't going to wear it, it's a waste," he said.
The device can be used in industrial ear muffs or with a smaller palm-sized device with headphones.
Negotiations with three multinational safety and protection companies to make their safety products with the new technology are underway.
While these discussions are proving fruitful, Mr. Miller said that if no licensing agreement could be reached in the coming months, Sensear would make its own products by the middle of the year.