Friday, May 26, 2017

What exactly is Radio Frequency Communication

Radio frequency (often abbreviated as, RF), can be described as any frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum with radio wave propagation that lie in the range extending from about 3 kHz to 300 GHz; this includes the frequencies that are used for communications or the radar signals. That said, you should know that RF generally refers to electrical rather than the mechanical oscillations.

RF communication utilizes radio waves rather than wires to exchange signals, and this is where the term "wireless communication," comes from. RF modules generally use frequencies to distinguish the different radio signals, therefore, in order for the RF modules to communicate, they have to be operating on the same exact frequency. That said, you should know that radio frequency is normally measured in units known as hertz (abbreviated as Hz), which represent number of cycles/second when the ra dio wave(s) is transmitted. 1 hertz (Hz) equals 1 cycle/second, and 1 megahertz (abbreviated as, MHz) equals 1 million cycles/second.

A radio frequency (RF) signal basically refers to the wireless electromagnetic signal that's utilized as a form of communication, when talking about wireless electronics. As mentioned earlier, radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation which have identified radio frequencies which usually range from about 3Hz to 300 GHz. Not every radio wave is the same; they can be small or big, or they can be far apart or close together. On the radio stations we normally listen to, every station uses waves which are on a slightly different frequency from the other stations. Whenever you happen to switch from one radio station to another, your radio picks up and then plays waves of that particular frequency.

Frequency normally refers to the oscillation rate of the radio waves. It can also refer to how close together or far apart the waves are. When the radio waves are too far apart, that is known as low frequency, and when the radio waves are close together, that is known as high frequency. That said, you should know that radio frequency propagation happens at speed of light, and doesn't need any medium (such as air) in order for it to travel. Radio frequency waves occur naturally from lightning, the sun flares, and even from stars which radiate radio frequency waves as the get older. However, people usually communicate with man made radio waves which oscillate at various select frequencies.

The man made radio frequency waves are produced by oscillating current for a certain number of times, and radiating it off the conductor (which is referred to as the antenna), into an empty space (this is the space that's occupied by air and not the outer space), as electromagnetic radio waves. The RF signals are received and sent using conductors via the phenomenon that's called the skin effect, where radio frequency current latches itself and then flows through the conductors' surface; this effect is actually the basis and the core of radio technology.

The best thing about RF communication, is that it's omnipresent (that is to mean it's all around us). It plays a crucial role in many of the communications systems which we depend on a daily basis, such as fire and police radio systems, TV and radio broadcasts, and satellite communications. Cordless phones, cellphones, Wireless internet (Wi Fi), and Bluetooth also operate in the radio frequency spectrum. In addition to that, there are other appliances outside of the communications field that use RF. They include; microwave ovens, garage door openers, among others. Some wireless devices such as TV remote controls, cordless computer mice, computer keyboa rds, and even two way radios also operate using RF frequency.

2 way radios are based on the RF frequency and they perform group communication using minimum radio frequency channel resources. This is to mean that if all the users are in the same location or area (most of the time), you will only need a single channel resource in order to talk to them. By using RF, 2 way radios have the capability of facilitating one to many group communication (which is also known as a group call), very efficiently. By efficient, I mean that 1 user can communicate/talk to 1, 5, 10, 100 or even 1000's of users at a go. The 2 way radio user doesnt need to keep on repeating the same message if he/she needs to convey to many users.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

NFL investigating Giants for using two-way radio during game against Cowboys

Apparently using a two way radio during an American football game is frowned upon over in the good old US of A, This article is about a game between the Giants and the Cowboys. During a Game the coaching staff and Quarterback are not allowed to communicate if there is 15 seconds or less on the clock, this rule might have been broken with the use of a walkie talkie.

The NFL is investigating the Giants’ potentially rule-breaking use of a two-way radio during the team’s recent 10-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

The use of a two-way radio by a coach during a game is strictly against league rules, according to ESPN.

In the fourth quarter of the Cowboys game, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was spotted using a walkie-talkie to communicate play calls with Eli Manning after his headset malfunctioned.

In the fourth quarter of the game, Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was spotted using a walkie-talkie to communicate play calls with Eli Manning after his headset malfunctioned.

The Cowboys issued a formal complaint to the league over the radio use, but the NFL’s investigation was already underway by the time Dallas contacted them.

The NFL has a rule against coaches using two-way handheld radios because the league cannot control when both parties are communicating.

A coach using a walkie-talkie makes it harder for the NFL to monitor a league rule that states communication from the sideline to the quarterback must end when 15 seconds are left on the play clock.

With headsets, the NFL has the power to shut off communication at will with a “cutoff switch operator,” ESPN reported.

The Giants had no comment when reached Thursday night.

McAdoo used the walkie talkie in question, however, for about four or five plays on the Giants’ fourth-quarter drive that ended in an Eli Manning interception on a pass intended for Victor Cruz.

McAdoo’s normal equipment malfunctioned and as the Giants worked to fix it, the coach was handed the walkie talkie temporarily because its signal was reaching Manning’s helmet.

As the Giants worked to correct McAdoo’s equipment, Odell Beckham Jr. could be seen running to the sideline to bring plays back to the huddle and Manning was heading over to the sideline, as well.

There is no evidence in reviewing the game film that demonstrates McAdoo was on the walkie talkie for longer than the allowed 15 seconds of communication with his quarterback.

There is also, of course, no evi dence that the Giants gained any advantage even if he was. The drive ended in a turnover and the Giants’ offense stunk most of the night.

2016 year in review: Motorola's resurgence

Motorola have always been a brand we have looked up to, in our eyes they produce some of the best equipment on the market, sometimes they don’t sell as well as they should do. The business has been split and sold several times over the last year, but they are now on the rise and business is going well, as this article shows.

2014 saw Motorola’s ownership change hands from the west to the east. Lenovo acquired the company off Google on January 29, 2014 but it was not until 2016 that the fruits of Lenovo’s ownership started showing up.

The year started off with Motorola in a slightly vulnerable position with the relative failure of both the Moto X Style and Moto X Play. The Moto X line was fading and even the third generation Moto G had f ailed to impress.

These first devices under Lenovo’s ownership however, had been in the pipeline much before Lenovo took over and it was not until the Moto G4 and the Moto Z in 2016 that we saw what the new Motorola could deliver.

Moto G4 series: Ushering in a renaissance

The Moto G4 Plus was one of two variants of Motorola's fourth generation Moto G, the firm's bestselling smartphone range ever. This was the first time Motorola (now owned by Lenovo) launched more than one smartphone in the G range, with the Moto G4, Moto G4 Play and the Moto G4 Plus.

At a starting price of Rs 13,499, the Moto G4 Plus made for a compelling buy, and continued the G series of smartphone's tradition of providing good smartphones at an affordable price. With a superb display, a fast and accurate fingerprint sensor, stock android and great performance, it ticked all the right boxes for a mid-range device.



In comparison to the regular Moto G4, the Moto G4 Plus featured an improved 16MP rear camera with phase auto detection, laser autofocus and a dual LED Flash and also came with a fingerprint sensor.

Motorola also released the Moto G4 Play which was the cheapest device in the G4 lineup at Rs 8,999 and packed a 5-inch 720p HD display, a 2,800mAh battery, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable internal storage.

The Moto G4, G4 Plus and G4 Play were critical as well as commercial hits and announced the comeback of Motorola in the smartphone game. The Plus in particular, presented a fantastic blend of features and affordability that saw it shoot up the sales charts.

Moto E3 Power: The odd one out

Lenovo also unveiled the Moto E3 Power in India which was a more powerful version of the third generation Moto E3. In a surprising move, the company decided against releasing the regular Moto E3 in the country.

The Moto E3 Power came with a massive 3,500mAh battery, 2GB of RAM, a 5-inch HD display and nearly stock Android Marshmallow.

At Rs 7,999, the Moto E3 Power found itself in as odd situation with the much more capable Moto G4 Play priced at just a thousand rupees more.

The attack of the Modular smartphones

Motorola then cemented its position in the smartphone world by releasing the striking Moto Z, the company’s most exciting smartphone in years.

The Moto Z came packed to the gills with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera with OIS and 4K recording, a 5MP front shooter and a 2,600mAh battery along with TurboCharging support.

The ‘World's thinnest premium smartphone’ came with a 5.5-inch QuadHD display protected by corning gorilla glass, a sleek and suave metal/glass body and unlimited feature expansion through the Moto Mods.



The distinguishing feature of the Moto Z were the ‘Moto Mods’: snap-on accessories that could be attached to the back of smartphone through magnets in order to increase its functionality.

Alongside the flagship Moto Z, Motorola also launched its younger brother, the Moto Z Play which came with a 5.5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, a downgrade from the QuadHD resolution of the Moto Z and the largest battery Motorola ever put in any of its smartphones. Just like the Moto Z, the Moto Z Play also supported the innovative Moto Mods.

The Moto Z and Moto Z Play helped bring Motorola back into the spotlight. The Moto Mods in particular were greatly appreciated and were hailed as one of the best implementations of the modular concept in recent years.

The stunning all-metal Moto M

The end of the year saw Motorola launching the stunning all-metal Moto M in India.

The Moto M’s full metal unibody design with antenna bands on the top and bottom edges was a complete departure from the design language of previous Motorola smartphones and was again an indication of the company's new ownership.

This is what Sudhin Mathur, Executive Director, Lenovo Mobile Business Group, India had to say about the company's performance in 2016:

“The Moto G franchise continues to be much loved and we witnessed an extremely high conversion from early Moto G buyers opting for the new Moto G 4th Generation. But, our real game changer and technological breakthrough was the Moto Z and Moto Mods series that redefined the evolutionary progress of the smartphone industry. The Moto Z and Moto Mods system is designed to provide connected, intelligent and mobile consumer experiences in a seamless fashion and the power to transform your (Moto Z) smartphone in a snap is revolutionary. We started with four Moto Mods and are continuously working with multiple partners to develop more Mods for smartphone users in 2017.”

What's next?

2017 will be a crucial year for the company as it prepares to build upon the success of the G4 and Z range. It is pivotal for Lenovo to make sure that it retains the essence of the company while at the same time push new boundaries of design and innovation.

The arrival of 5G, cognitive radio and the future of connectivity

We are very excited about 5G, we have already reported on how the UK emergency services are moving over to a LTE network, and inevitably 5G is the next step for better, faster and more capable communications.  Not planned to be deployed until the next decade, we believe that 5G will allow us to communicate better with our Walkie talkies. The original article can be found here.

With faster and more reliable connections, we look at what the next generation of communications could mean for business

From smart cities to the internet of things (IoT), virtually every aspect of the modern world is becoming closely connected.

The extent to which we rely on our devices and the exchange of information means new systems are needed that not only handle far greater bandwidth, but that are capable of being deployed to cover areas that were previously unreachable.

The potential benefits for business are huge, with faster and more reliable connectivity not only enhancing how firms interact with customers and each other, but also lending itself to greater flexible working among staff.

The arrival of 5G

One development that many industry observers believe could be revolutionary is 5G. Following on from 4G, the fifth-generation mobile network is in its early stages of development and is expected to be rolled out between 2020â€"25.

Any tech that contributes towards the next phase of mobile connectivity is covered by the term 5G. And although there are still no set standards or specifications, the GSMA â€" a trade body that represents global mobile operators â€" has outlined eight key criteria, stipulating minimum requirements for speed, capacity and energy in order for something to be considered 5G.

According to Ofcom, once operational 5G could provide between 10â€"50 Gbps (gigabit per seconds) in download speeds (as compared to the 5â€"12 Gbps of 4G), and although most experts expect it to be at the lower end of the range, that would still mean you could download an HD movie in seconds.

But rather than simply being faster than the current 4G, it will also allow more devices to access the web â€" an essential requirement if the IoT is to take off â€" meaning it could be transformative for business.



Raj Sivalingam, executive director of telecoms for techUK, the trade association for the tech sector, says: “The potential of the IoT, particularly in the enterprise environment, has been hugely debated but its i mpact is almost certainly still undervalued.

“Mass deployment across sectors will boost efficiency and safety with pre-emptive fault correction; enable automatic reporting of accidents and allow real-time asset tracking, reducing crime and increasing productivity, to name just a few benefits.”

One potential bottleneck for 5G is spectrum availability â€" or lack of it. Radio frequencies for both 3G and 4G are already overcrowded. The provision of a new bandwidth will require widespread cooperation between operators, manufacturers and governments.

Infrastructure is also an issue, says Sivalingam. “Making the leap to 5G mobile services and getting more fibre into the fixed telecommunications networks will require substantial amounts of investment.

“We need the government and industry stakeholders to work to shift the UK from good levels of connectivity to great levels so that we continue to attract investors and startups, and to foster innovation from within the UK.”

Cognitive radio

One possible solution is cognitive radio. An adaptive radio and network technology, it can sense and respond to its operating environment and automatically tune itself to the best available frequencies, this makes it more reliable in extreme locations where signals are weak, potentially providing dependable, robust connections that are not hampered by interference or geography.

Finland-based KNL Networks has developed a system using the technology that uses short wave radio to transmit internet access to sites in remote locations ranging from oil rigs to polar research stations. KNL Networks CEO Toni Linden says: “We can provide similar connectivity to those from satellites but with a terrestrial radio system. Our radios receive the whole spectrum all the time, so rather than scanning, real-time broadband receiving is going on. Thus we can see and measure everything that’s going on in the spectrum a nd we can maintain the network connectivity that way.”

The tech opens up the possibility of providing seamless connectivity anywhere, giving business reliable online access to markets in parts of the world that have otherwise been unreachable. It could also enable media and other companies to broadcast without the need for expensive satellites.

Quantum key distribution

It’s not just data transmission, speeds and connectivity that pose challenges in the future, but the safety of that data too. Cybercrime is ranked alongside terrorism as among the most serious threats to the UK [pdf], and with data now the lifeblood of modern business, securing that data is of paramount concern. One technology that could provide the answer is quantum communications.

Conventional encryption relies on sending a decryption key alongside your secret data. The receiver then uses that key to decode your secret information. But problems arise because hackers can also copy this key and steal your data.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is different because it encodes this key on light particles called photons, and an underlying principle of quantum mechanics means that a hacker trying to read or copy such a key would automatically alter its state, effectively leaving a hacker fingerprint so the sender and receiver know their information security had been breached.

China recently launched a quantum satellite to further research into this technology, with the hope of developing an uncrackable communications network.

In the UK, the Quantum Communications Hub is part of a national network of four hubs led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxfor d and York. Director Tim Spiller says: “We are developing quantum communications technologies along a number of different directions, notably short-range free space QKD, where the transmitter could be in future mobile phones, and chip-to-chip QKD through optical fibre, where the chips could be in future computers and other devices.”

With two thirds of British business falling victim to cybercrime in the past year the need for better encryption is clear.

Several companies currently offer commercial quantum key distribution systems include ID Quantique, MagiQ Technologies, QuintessenceLabs, SeQureNet and Toshiba, although its high cost and limited range means mainly banks and governments are its main users, with mainstream adoption still some way off.

Spiller added: “Certainly it would be desirable to improve the size, weight, po wer and cost points of current technologies and our work in the hub and elsewhere is addressing all these factors.”

Paul Lee, head of technology, media, and telecommunications research at Deloitte, highlighted a number of improvements which he expected to see coming down the line, including improved mobile antennae and base stations, as well as improvements to fixed networks such as G.fast that would enable copper cable to operate at much higher speeds.

“As they get steadily faster, new services emerge to exploit these greater speeds, which then requires the deployment of even faster networks. This tail chasing has been going on for decades and won’t stop in 2017.”

Why We Still Choose Wired Covert Earpieces Over Wireless Ones

Advancement in technology has changed the form of how electronic devices look like, how they operate and consequently how we handle them. Devices such as radios have become smaller, lighter and wireless. The advent of Bluetooth has enabled radios to connect without any physical connections; notably saving us from the fuss of tangled and visible wires. The wireless earpieces are in use, but it is important to note that they have not completely taken over from the wired covert earpieces. With the convenience and technological advancement they offer, why is it that they have not replaced their wired counterparts especially in fields of operation? Here are a few thoughts:

Reliability

Wireless earpieces are not as reliable as the wired ones. The technology that supports Bluetooth communication has it that the source device (radio) and the receiving device (earpiece) have to be at a certain distance from each other and nothing should come in between the path of transmission of the two devices. This means that if any of the two requirements are not as anticipated, functionality is compromised. Wired earpieces do not have the complication of interference and limited bandwidth. When you are in a situation where reliability is crucial, where you cannot afford to lose connection, say you are out in the field on operation, it would make sense to use wired covert earpieces as they are easy to handle, making them more reliable.

Limited Operational Lifetime

For a wireless device to be operational, it needs to be charged. When out on assignment, the crew will need to ensure that they have fully charged the wireless earphones and carried a fully-charged extra battery. The batteries work on a limited operational lifetime which burdens the crew as they have to keep replacing the batteries every time. When pack ing batteries for replacement, one should pack enough to cater for both the radio and earphone. This is not the case with the wired pieces. For wired pieces, the crew only has to worry about a single cable that will connect the radio to the earphones. The wired option is therefore less of a burden to handle than the wireless ones.



Necessary Visibility

In some instances, the visibility of the wires, which the wireless earpieces work against, is crucial in making a statement. In a security situation, the wired pieces are visible to the human eye; they make the public aware of the security. The visibility in itself reinforces security, deterring any harmful or criminal practices that may take place. In such a situation, wireless pieces are of no use as no security statement will be made.

Disruption and Negative Interference

Wireless earpieces are vulnerable to signal disruption and negative interference. It is possible for a wireless-transmitted signal to be compromised- an activity that may cause threats and anomalies. A signal transmitted by wireless means may be decrypted and accessed by unauthorized people. At the same time, the signal may be compromised in a way the end product that is received as sound is not what was initially transmitted. Bluetooth is open to any form of interference, be it purposeful or accidental. The wired covert earpiece on the other hand greatly reduce the possibility of such malpractices as it would be hard to physically interfere with transmission without anyone noticing.

Misplacing earpieces during an incident

In the event of an incident, it would be hard to misplace a wired covert earpiece. This is because, when an agent is on the move or if they make any vigorous movements, the security earpiece might be detached from the ear but will not fall; it is tethered to the radio using the wire. On the other hand, a Bluetooth earpiece would probably detach itself from the ear, fall down and be misplaced as it has no physical tethering to the radio device. This will cost an agent a lot of time in looking for a misplaced device and even the responsibility of a lost device.

When it comes to technology, the feature advancements are normally made to our convenience and efficiency but in some cases, the old way of doing things would prove to be better. Wired covert earpieces have major advantages over their wireless counterparts, making them hard to phase out. What the wireless earpieces can function as at this point is as a complimentary device to the wired one.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Sepura Contributes to Success of World’s First Cross-border TETRA System

We take it for granted that when we move around the country our mobile phones connect to the nearest mast, or we go abroad and our phones automatically connect to the network, with tetra, this is not as easy, but this article is about a test that Sepura completed connecting two TETRA networks in Norway and Sweden, interesting stuff.

Sepura radios have successfully participated in interoperability trials for the world’s first cross-border TETRA communication system, linking RAKEL and Nødnett, Sweden and Norway’s public safety networks.

More than 350 first responders were involved in the trials, which took place in Meråker, close to the Swedish border, in a crisis response exercise involving public safety users from both countries.



The cross-border system utilises TETRA Inter-System Interface (ISI) functionality to connect ne tworks together, effectively allowing users to roam to another network. This allows first responders to use their radios in both countries â€" vital for smooth collaboration in emergency situations.

The initiative to strengthen co-operation between national emergency services started in 2013 with the EU-funded Inter-System Interoperability project, designed to improve the ability to respond to natural disasters and security threats. The RAKEL and Nødnett networks are scheduled to be ready for bi-national operational use in early 2017.

Sepura’s STP9000 hand-portable radios and SRG3900 mobile radios were used by both Swedish and Norwegian emergency services during the exercise, although all Sepura radios â€" including the new flagship SC20 range â€" meet the technical requirements of the ISI system.

“This is one of the most advanced multinational radio communication projects in Europe,” said Tariq Haque, Product Manager for Sepura.

“After two y ears’ development, bi-national interoperability has become a reality, bringing cross-border mission critical communications to Sweden and Norway.

“We are extremely pleased to have played a part in this ground-breaking event.”

Source - http://www.tetra-applications.com/33643/news/sepura-contributes-to-success-of-world-s-first-cross-border-tetra-system

Monday, March 13, 2017

WiFi Enabled LTE Small Cell Gateway Market to Register a Strong Growth By 2021 - PMR

On paper, connecting walkie talkie radios to a Wifi networkis is the most obvious method of controlling and communicating within a business. But the reality is that there aren’t many radios on the market that have the capability to do this and many wifi networks aren’t robust enough to manage lots of radios, this article predicts that this technology will be a growth market, we will wait and see.

WiFi enabled LTE small cell gateway is a type of a base station. Base station uses cellular wireless network for communicating with mobile phones or terminals. Base station connects mobile phones to a wireless carrier network and offers local coverage for a wireless network. The area of coverage varies from several miles to few city blocks. Each base station is typically owned by one carrier or wireless company and gives coverage only fo r that company's network. It may also offer roaming coverage for other networks in case carriers have agreement for roaming and technology is compatible. Base station comprises of an electronic cabinet which connected by means of cables to a group of antennas. The antennas may be mounted on an existing structure or on dedicated tower structure including top of a building, church steeple or smoke-stack and water tower.

In radio communications, base station refers to wireless communications station implemented at a fixed location and used to communicate as wireless telephone system including cellular GSM or CDMA cell site, part push-to-talk two-way radio system, terrestrial trunked radio and two-way radio. A single location often operates several base stations owned by a different carrier. Smaller types of base stations or small cells include picocells, femtocells and microcells. WiFi enabled LTE small cell gateway is promising network element. A wide variety of base station d eployments are in a small cell configuration. It has WiFi interface at end-use device and LTE interface at the carrier network.



Small cell is low-powered radio access nodes (operator-controlled) that operate in carrier-grade Wi-Fi (unlicensed) and licensed spectrum. Small cells normally have a range from 10 to numerous hundred meters. Small cell base stations are expected to play vital role in expanding the capacity of wireless networks due to increasing mobile data traffic. Mobile operators are increasingly looking forward to this technology in order to meet the rising demands for data, video and application access generated due to smart phones and other devices. Small cells aid mobile service that detect presence, interact wand connect with existing networks. Small cells offer increased quality of service and flexibility at an affordable cost. Small cell infrastruct ure implantation is an environmentally friendly approach as it reduces the number of cell towers and offers a cleaner signal using less power.

Rising numbers of wireless carriers or companies are taking dedicated interest in this industry owing to the proliferation of embedded WiFi features in fixed and mobile devices. Growing demand for more advanced handheld devices such as smart-phones and tablets is expected to create demand for technologies with high internet speed. This in turn, is expected to drive the growth of WiFi enabled LTE small cell gateways.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Virtual Reality Coming to Your In-Flight Entertainment?

2016 was the year of the Virtual reality headset, we are seeing the first versions of a technology that can, and possibly will, change our lives, much like the smart phone has. VR has the potential to improve our Games, TV programmes and Movies and allow us to experience things and places better. This article is about how your in-flight might be improved by a VR headsets.

No one likes flying during the holidays. Between having to leave two hours ahead of time and getting through security, just getting to your flight feels like a trip in itself. And then you get on the plane and have nothing to do for three hours except watch reruns of Friends on the little TV in front of you.

That’s probably about to change, thanks to VR. For a little while, of course, passengers can plug into their own Samsung Gear VR sets and tune out, but airlines might be offering their own complimentary variety so you can forget you’re stuck on an airplane.



A French start-up, SkyLights, is developing the tech. It’s a headset with a six-hour battery life, and it comes with noise-cancelling headphones. The headset looks pretty sleek and simple, because they’re made to be: There’s none of the neater interactions you get with an Oculus or Samsung headset. It really is just a movie beamed right into your face. You’ll be able to watch the newest 2D and 3D movies, and the set comes with 128 GB of storage â€" about 40 movies. Weighing only slightly more than half a pound, it’s easy to visualize the headset propped on the back of the seat in front of you, and after paying the fee, you can flip it on and enjoy hi-def movies right in front of your face.

The headsets are being tested in France right now: XL Airways became the first headset to offer a commercial version of the headset to passengers last week, for $16 per flight. SkyLights has also partnered with AirFrance and Airbus. Content-wise, there are partnerships in the works with 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks.

The general lack of viable in-flight entertainment has been plaguing the airline industry for a while; broadband Internet is an extra cost (roughly $10 per flight, depending on your airline), and the movies and TV they show are typically outdated.

It wasn’t until recently that airlines began attempting to match the broadband speed you’d find on the ground. (As of last year, you’d get speeds of around 3.1Mbps, as opposed to the roughly 30Mbps that smartphones on the ground are capable of). Since so many people use their own devices for entertainment, airlines are in desperate need of upping their Wi-Fi speed. But they also need ways to entertain their customers in an inexpensive manner, without the heavy screens and cables that come with TVs. Virtual-reality headsets â€" light, not-too-costly, and wireless â€" could offer a way for airlines to draw their customer base back in. But there are challenges: VR headsets are a relatively new and untested technology.

“Airlines are difficult players to deal with because they are risk-averse and slow to innovate,” David Dicko, SkyLight’s CEO, told the Times.

One potential problem for in-flight VR in your face is the nausea it causes. VR (even if it’s just a film) can be very disorienting, and it’s no t hard to imagine people getting sick from it on a moving plane. Oculus’ health and safety documentation is a laundry list of potential concerns, from warnings of dizziness and nausea to seizures and sweating.

Another potential issue could be that hundreds of folks tuned out to a VR movie with noise-cancelling headphones have, at the least, limited awareness of the outside world. That means slowness to react in plane emergencies â€" another potential lawsuit on an airline’s hands.

For now, we’re skeptical that VR headsets will take off as in-flight entertainment in the U.S. anytime soon. Early adopters might be eager to try them â€" but they also have their own headsets that they can use for free. Customers would have to pay over the price of a movie ticket, the technology is unstudied when it comes to users’ health, and everyone has their own phone or tablet to ent ertain themselves. We love the idea, but, as Dicko noted, the airlines are a pretty risk-averse industry. They should prioritize Wi-Fi bandwidth first (and make it at least cheaper), which is what the majority of customers undoubtedly want.

Anyway, it’s hard to imagine a more Black Mirrorâ€"esque image than a hundred people, arranged into rows, their heads leaning back, eyes hidden behind a headset, plugged in to a world that isn’t there.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spy Earpiece: A Micro Earpiece That Will Help You Through Presentations, Interviews, Speeches + More

When you think of a spy earpiece, the first thing that comes to mind is inspector gadget or Mission impossible, well it does for us anyway. But there are real world applications for these earpieces are wide. As this article explains, when you need a little help with prompts on a big presentation or you need to receive instructions during a lecture, then a micro earpiece could be the answer.

This device originally developed for covert operations is now made available for the public to use. Each earpiece kit can provide a way for you to transmit and receive audio information without anybody in the room knowing. Whether you want to receive pre-recorded messages or information from another party to assist you during your presentation / interview or speech, the earpiece can be set up with your phone, audio recorder, radio, or MP3 player to send the message to your earpiece , placed in your ear channel so that it is undetectable .. All kits also include a built in microphone so that you can engage in 2 way conversation should you wish



So how does it work?

The key is the inductive transmitter that will transmit audio from a phone / mp3 player to the earpiece. The transmitter itself is available in many forms. For example the transmitter may be included within a neckloop to be worn around the users neck, this may connect to your phone or mp3 player via its earphone socket. Or you may have a Bluetooth are often included in everyday objects such as a pair of glasses, a Pen or even a bluetooth watch. The transmitter acts as the aerial for reception and signal transmitter from phone to earpiece. At the same time, output sound picked up by the tiny microphone attached to the neckloop / pen / glasses is sent through your phone just as if the user is talking directly into it.

How to Use The Spy Earpiece?

Depending on what kind of information you wish to receive the earpiece can be set up to suit. For example during a presentation or speech you may wish to pre-record your speech or presentation on an mp3 player, then play it back to yourself during the presentation / speech. Or simply record a simple prompt for each point you would like to make. You could then connect up your mp3 player to an inductive neckloop included in most earpiece kits, and wear a spy earpiece. So long as the battery is inserted into the earpiece you will hear the audio from your mp3 player in the earpiece.

Alternatively you may prefer to have a team prepped in another room to assist you during your speech. This can be achieved by simply starting a mobile phone conversation with your team just before the speech starts. You would then need to either connect an inductive neckloop to the headphone output of your phone, or pair your phone with a bluetooth induction neckloop / pen / glasses. Insert the earpiece into your ear making sure the battery is inserted correctly. Your team should be able to hear your speech in real time over the phone, and can give you tips in your earpiece along the way. The same may apply in an interview situation, you may wish to have a third party issue you advice during your interview.

Each Inductive transmitter whether it be a neckloop or a bluetooth device like a pen, glasses or bluetooth neckloop, will also include a built in microphone so you can also talk back to your colleagues should you wish during your speech / presentation or interview.


Lets not forget the original intention of the Spy Earpiece which is for security and covert surveillance. The Spy Earpiece excels in these situations where the requirement is for a security operative to communicate covertly.

The key to success is in the careful planning and preparation so that everything runs smooth.



The way I see it, when the challenge is great and the results mean everything, why not try the Spy Earpiece and take the risk out of the equation?

Source - https://techfeatured.com/1592/spy-earpiece-a-micro-earpiece-that-will-help-you-through-presentations-interviews-speeches-more

Spy Earpiece: A Micro Earpiece That Will Help You Through Presentations, Interviews, Speeches + More

When you think of a spy earpiece, the first thing that comes to mind is inspector gadget or Mission impossible, well it does for us anyway. But there are real world applications for these earpieces are wide. As this article explains, when you need a little help with prompts on a big presentation or you need to receive instructions during a lecture, then a micro earpiece could be the answer.

This device originally developed for covert operations is now made available for the public to use. Each earpiece kit can provide a way for you to transmit and receive audio information without anybody in the room knowing. Whether you want to receive pre-recorded messages or information from another party to assist you during your presentation / interview or speech, the earpiece can be set up with your phone, audio recorder, radio, or MP3 player to send the message to your earpiece , placed in your ear channel so that it is undetectable .. All kits also include a built in microphone so that you can engage in 2 way conversation should you wish



So how does it work?

The key is the inductive transmitter that will transmit audio from a phone / mp3 player to the earpiece. The transmitter itself is available in many forms. For example the transmitter may be included within a neckloop to be worn around the users neck, this may connect to your phone or mp3 player via its earphone socket. Or you may have a Bluetooth are often included in everyday objects such as a pair of glasses, a Pen or even a bluetooth watch. The transmitter acts as the aerial for reception and signal transmitter from phone to earpiece. At the same time, output sound picked up by the tiny microphone attached to the neckloop / pen / glasses is sent through your phone just as if the user is talking directly into it.

How to Use The Spy Earpiece?

Depending on what kind of information you wish to receive the earpiece can be set up to suit. For example during a presentation or speech you may wish to pre-record your speech or presentation on an mp3 player, then play it back to yourself during the presentation / speech. Or simply record a simple prompt for each point you would like to make. You could then connect up your mp3 player to an inductive neckloop included in most earpiece kits, and wear a spy earpiece. So long as the battery is inserted into the earpiece you will hear the audio from your mp3 player in the earpiece.

Alternatively you may prefer to have a team prepped in another room to assist you during your speech. This can be achieved by simply starting a mobile phone conversation with your team just before the speech starts. You would then need to either connect an inductive neckloop to the headphone output of your phone, or pair your phone with a bluetooth induction neckloop / pen / glasses. Insert the earpiece into your ear making sure the battery is inserted correctly. Your team should be able to hear your speech in real time over the phone, and can give you tips in your earpiece along the way. The same may apply in an interview situation, you may wish to have a third party issue you advice during your interview.

Each Inductive transmitter whether it be a neckloop or a bluetooth device like a pen, glasses or bluetooth neckloop, will also include a built in microphone so you can also talk back to your colleagues should you wish during your speech / presentation or interview.


Lets not forget the original intention of the Spy Earpiece which is for security and covert surveillance. The Spy Earpiece excels in these situations where the requirement is for a security operative to communicate covertly.

The key to success is in the careful planning and preparation so that everything runs smooth.

The way I see it, when the challenge is great and the results mean everything, why not try the Spy Earpiece and take the risk out of the equation?



Source - https://techfeatured.com/1592/spy-earpiece-a-micro-earpiece-that-will-help-you-through-presentations-interviews-speeches-more

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Offering workers hearing protection options

Much Like Protecting your sight or looking after your health, your hearing should also be protected, this article tackles hearing protection within the workplace and what type of earplugs are best, Enjoy.

OSHA regulations dictate we offer a “variety” of hearing protectors to noise-exposed workers. What is best practice for providing a variety while keeping inventory to a minimum?

Per CFR 1910.95(i)(3), “Employees shall be given the opportunity to select their hearing protectors from a variety of suitable hearing protectors provided by the employer.” But does “variety of suitable hearing protectors” mean two or 10, earplugs or earmuffs, different colors or different sizes?

The wrong approach is to choose a variety based on factors that have no effect on protecting hearing, including the published noise reduction rating. Some safety managers offer several different large foam earplugs that are yellow, green and orange â€" mistakenly assuming they meet the “variety” requirement and not realizing that a significant portion of their workforce will never achieve an adequate fit with a large foam earplug. In those cases, their supposed “variety” actually limits the number of workers adequately protected.



This bad assumption is often codified into company safety policies that require a minimum NRR: “Approved hearing protectors must have an NRR of at least 32 decibels,” or similar criteria. By definition, that typically means a large foam earplug. Despite the higher NRR based on 10 laboratory test subjects, workers with smaller ear canals will never achieve an adequate fit with those large foam earplugs to stop noise-induced hearing loss.

What are the factors that affect good fit of an earplug?



  • Size: Like a cork in a bottle, an earplug that is too large or too small will never achieve an acoustic seal to protect hearing. Offering a variety of sizes significantly improves the percentage of employees obtaining a good fit.


  • Shape: Ear canal openings may appear round, oval or slit. A foam earplug often fills an oval or slit opening better than pre-molded earplugs.


  • Ease of insertion: Some workers have difficulty rolling or inserting foam earplugs due to lack of mobility. For these workers, an earplug with a stem may be easier to insert.




Based on thousands of fit tests administered to workers in the field, the following four earplug styles provide a selection that would adequately protect nearly every worker:



  • Large foam earplug


  • Smaller foam earplug


  • Large reusable earplug


  • Smaller reusable earplug




The good news is that offering a variety does not necessarily increase cost. Buying 1,000 earplugs of one style or 250 earplugs of four different styles is fairly equivalent in cost. But the bigger variety significantly increases the probability that more workers will be adequately protected.

Many worksites adjust their inventory based on results of their fit-testing of hearing protectors. By reviewing which earplugs repeatedly provide the best fit, these companies identify the gaps or duplications in their offering and can adjust accordingly. Sometimes, this means adding a smaller-size earplug, but many times companies find they can remove some less-effective earplugs from their inventory. It’s not necessary to carry a dozen different earplug styles.

Finally, any offering of hearing protection needs a hands-on training component. How can a workers determine whether their ear canal is large or small, round or oval? It’s impossible to view your own ear canal opening in a mirror. A quick glance by a safety trainer can be of tremendous benefit in helping workers select the right earplug the first time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

How To Select The Right Radio Earpiece

When choosing a radio earpiece, there are several factors that should be considered. A radio earpiece should not only aid in communication it should also protect the user’s ear against cumulative ear damage that may eventually result in ear loss. Below are the factors that you should consider when buying a radio earpiece ;

1) Clarity of communication

The most important reason as to why you have a radio is for clear communication and this is what your radio earpiece should enhance. Although there are several radio earpieces out there, many of them use bone conduction when transmitting the user’s speech meaning that they heavily rely on vibrations of one’s skull as they talk. This does not help much in ensuring that the communications are clear especially when one is on the move.

You should therefore go for a system whose in-ear microphone does not use bone conduction and this will enhance the sound clarity. Such a system can even transmit speeches when one is whispering and this comes in handy especially when in an environment where secrecy is very crucial.

2) Comfort

It is very important to select a system that you feel comfortable with most importantly when you are to wear it on your head. Note that, you will probably be wearing the gear for long hours and that is why it should be of lightweight and should not in any way interfere with your eye wear or helmet.

Avoid heavy, sweaty and coiled tube earpieces that are very uncomfortable and will cause ear fatigue. Instead, go for a radio earpiece whose microphone is built into the earbud itself. Such earpieces come in various shapes and sizes and can even be customized to fit the specific needs of a user. Note that, military-grade materials are specifically designed to be of lightweight.

3) Durability

Durability is a very important factor that should be considered when choosing a radio earpiece. You obviously don’t want to be wasting your time and money going back to look for another earpiece just because the one you chose did not last. This is why it is very important to select a system that is durable and has been tested for rugged use of a soldier or a SWAT officer. Go for one whose manufacturer is experienced in manufacturing earpieces that can withstand water, dirt, shock and even extreme temperatures.

4) Ease of use

Your radio earpiece should be easy to use because you can’t afford to mess up with the push-to-talk or the on & off buttons especially when on the move. Your gear should immediately fit into your actions with minimum effort. Look at the operational and the ergonomic features of the various radio earpieces and make sure that all its features are both of the right sizes and in the right places.

5) Hearing protection

Claims related to hearing loss and its related disabilities is on the rise among police & military veterans and this has led to the need for hearing protection for officers. Note that, hearing loss occurs cumulatively over time and it is irreversible. This is in addition to the fact that it has been associated with cognitive decline and that is why even the minor hearing loss can have a huge impact in the course of time. Select a radio earpiece that not only ensures effective communication, but also the hearing safety of the user.



6) Situational awareness

An earpiece is basically meant to keep you focused and keep your hands free. You should be aware of what is happening in their surrounding and that is why a radio earpiece should allow one to hear sounds that are outside, to stay alert with their surroundings.

In order to have full communications (just like one would have without anything in their ears), it is wise to choose a radio earpiece that has an external microphone. There are systems that even enable you to adjust volume of the external microphone and this ensures that you are aware of the happenings in your surroundings.

7) Modularity & Compatibility

There are several systems that are available out there and you should look for one that fits your requirements. As mentioned above, some of them can be customized to fit an individual user’s specific needs so you can never run out of options.

A radio earpiece that has a modular connector is good as you can change it to match even a different radio without having to replace the entire system. Some systems can even go with both earbuds and over-the-ear earpieces so depending on your needs, select the appropriate system.

8) Affordability

Many years ago radio earpieces cost £100 and upwards, these days you can get a D-ring earpiece for less than £15 and an acoustic tube for about £25. Bone conductor earpieces that were previously and expensive piece of technology, can be yours for about £40.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Far offshore windfarms present communications challenges

This is an interesting article debating the different types of communication that can be used over a long distance, and as they distance moves further and further, the different types of communication drop off or become part of an infrastructure. As engineers battle with this problem, knowledge of how radio frequencies and applications becomes paramount.

As offshore windfarms are built further and further from land, alternatives to conventional VHF communications are going to be required

A cornerstone of any major project is clear communication between all parties. As we move windfarm construction further offshore, maintaining efficient voice and data communications becomes essential. With many projects now being constructed beyond the range of VHF radio and cellular telephone, such as a Gemini or Dudgeon offshore windfarms, crew transfer vessel (CTV) operators and their clients are experiencing challenges achieving practical and affordable offshore communications. My experience on two far offshore projects in the last 15 months has shown that creative thinking can work together with existing equipment such as TETRA radio to reduce the risks and stress that poor communications can generate.

Communication solutions on offshore windfarms depend on the phase that the operation is in, the size of the project and the distance from shore. Many smaller, older windfarms rely on VHF radios to communicate between shore and vessel and shore/vessel and work team on the turbines. However, VHF is limited in range being a line-of-sight system, and the signal has trouble penetrating structures such as wind turbines due to the Faraday cage effect. Conventional cellular telephone coverage is also possible on nearshore sites, with some windfarms installing a cellular mast within the windfarm. Vessels at anchor off the Dutch port of IJmuiden can thank the windfarm industry for good connection when waiting for a pilot if they have contracts with the provider KPN.



When moving further offshore, luxuries such as a cellular mast will not be installed during the construction phase, and it is most likely that VHF radios will not be sufficient. It is common for the developer to install a TETRA radio network â€" similar to those used by national emergency response services such as police and fire departments.

TETRA, or terrestrial trunked radio as it is properly termed, is a secure network allowing one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications. This means that the marine controller can speak directly and privately to one party or to the entire offshore spread depending on what is needed. It transmits on a lower frequency than VHF so covers a greater range. This still is not enough to cover the distances experienced on far offshore windfarms. If multiple base stations are used, each base station can then automatically rebroadcast a message thus expanding the network coverage. On a recent construction project, it was found that there were communications blackspots in the area of the sea passage from the base port to the site. This was later eliminated by fitting full base station units rather than just handheld transceivers on the CTVs. The CTVs then became vital links in the communications network and ensured the blackspots were reduced or eliminated altogether.

TETRA has many other advantages, including the ability to penetrate the tower of a wind turbine, and calls are not dropped when moving between base station carriers due to the network configuration. This is especially important if vessel-carried base stations are relaying far offshore. The network is also secure, which ensures that commercially sensitive information cannot be intercepted. With the one-to-one mode, it also means that managers can have detailed conversations on sensitive subjects.

However, anecdotal information received from vessel crews in the field appear to indicate that TETRA, although a good system, is not foolproof. One vessel master reported that, after 15 months on site, they still had blackspots with TETRA and sometimes have to use the cell phone application WhatsApp to request that turbines be started or stopped so that he can land a team.

TETRA does not solve the operational problems experienced by vessel-operating companies who require frequent voice and data communication with the CTVs to ensure a smooth delivery of service. As most sites far offshore are outside of cell phone coverage and clients demand that daily reports are issued on time, creativity is needed. There is a simple solution that could solve all of the communication problems far offshore â€" installing VSAT satellite communications on each CTV, which allows instant telephone and data transfer.

However, the practicalities of chartering in today’s windfarm industry eliminates this option, as the client will not want to pay for installation and operation, and a vessel owner cannot afford such a luxury. Charterers therefore need to make a decision: either they assume responsibility and the costs for practical workable satellite communications on their vessels or look for practical alternative solutions to deliver what is needed far offshore.

One practical solution to maintain communications between the marine co-ordination centre and vessels is to step back a generation and use medium frequency/high frequency single side band radios, which are common equipment on larger CTVs and is standard on service operation vessels (SOVs) or installation vessels.

When used in conjunction with the digital selective calling (DSC) function of the GMDSS standard, voice communications can be maintained at long distance without operating cost. Unfortunately, current guidance for the marine co-ordination in windfarms as found in the G9 Good practice guideline: The safe management of small service vessels used in the offshore wind industry does not yet consider marine co-ordination and communications in far offshore windfarms.

Another practical solution to improve data communication is to install powerful WiFi antennas on the decks of SOVs and other major offshore assets to allow CTVs to have internet access when they are in close proximity. CTVs can then download passenger manifests and weather reports and upload the daily progress report and synchronise planned maintenance and email systems.

CTVs spend considerable time in close proximity to the SOV during passenger transfer, bunkering or waiting for the next assignment, and it is relatively easy to set up the computers to connect and synchronise without operator input, thus reducing the risk of distraction. SOVs should be designed with space for CTV crews to use as a secure office so that laptops can be left connected to the network. In this way, crews can have two computers and prepare work when on shift, transfer via a data stick and upload when they go off shift.

One of the most effective tools that we have identified is WhatsApp, which seems to require very low signal strength to connect and transfer brief messages. On recent projects, we have found that most vessel/office communication occurs in this medium, including fault finding and incident reporting and investigation. Crews have found it quicker to video a CCTV system playback and send via WhatsApp than download the CCTV video and send it via a file transfer service. As synchronising an electronic planned maintenance system offshore is very time consuming, our superintendents have taken to sending the worklists via WhatsApp to the vessels who then confirm back with text or images when a job is complete. The superintendent then does the PMS administration from their office with the advantage of high speed network connections. Experience with WhatsApp has led me to believe that agile, low data applications will form part of the future of offshore communication.

Far offshore projects have moved from planning and dreaming to reality. However, effective and cost-efficient communication solutions have not moved with them. Like most challenges with far offshore windfarms, there is no single solution, but experience has shown that, with creativity and flexibility, projects can communicate with their teams and operators can manage their vessels.

Better equipment earlier on in the construction phase, such as MF/HF radios in the MCC and on the vessels, TERA base stations on the vessels and open deck WiFi on construction assets will all assist in improving safety and reducing stress while ensuring that unnecessary costs are not incurred.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

MIT's new method of radio transmission could one day make wireless VR a reality

VR is the Buzz word for this year, every technology company clambering to get their headset out on to the market. Much of the market needs to catch-up though, the power of home computing needs to improve and removing the inevitable extra cabling and wires that come with current headsets. Luckily this article is about the future technology of VR headsets, see what we can expect as this technology grows.

If you want to use one of today's major VR headsets, whether the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, or the PS VR, you have to accept the fact that there will be an illusion-shattering cable that tethers you to the small supercomputer that's powering your virtual world.

But researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) may have a solution in MoVr, a wireless virtual reality system. Instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to transmit data, the research team’s MoVR system uses high-frequency millimeter wave radio to stream data from a computer to a headset wirelessly at dramatically faster speeds than traditional technology.

There have been a variety of approaches to solving this problem already. Smartphone-based headsets such as Google's Daydream View and Samsung's Gear VR allow for untethered VR by simply offloading the computational work directly to a phone inside the headset. Or the entire idea of VR backpacks, which allow for a more mobile VR experience by building a computer that's more easily carried. But there are still a lot of limitations to either of these solutions.

THE MOVR PROTOTYPE SIDESTEPS TETHERED VR ISSUES

Latency is the whole reason a wireless solution hasn't worked so far. VR is especially latency-sensitive, along with the huge bandwidth requirements that VR needs to display the level of high-resolution video required for virtual reality to work. But the MIT team claims that the millimeter wave signals can transmit fast enough to make a wireless VR headset feasible.

The issue with using millimeter wave technology is that the signal needs a direct line of sight, and fares poorly when it encounters any obstacles. MoVR gets around this by working as a programmable mirror that can direct the direction of the signal to the headset even while it’s moving to always make sure the signal is transmitting directly to the headset's receivers.



For now, the MoVR is simply a prototype, with the team hoping to further shrink down the system to allow for multiple wireless headsets in one room without encountering signal interference. But even as a proof-of-concept, it's an interesting perspective on how virtual reality could one day work.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Could hearing loss be a hidden cost of gaming?

Is this is a real problem? Do you use a set of headphones whilst gaming? This article has information on how damaging wearing gaming headphones is and what the future impact might be. Read this, examine how you use your headphones and get on with life…



According to the Q1 2016 GameTrack report, 18.8 million people between the ages of 6 and 64 game and those between 11 and 64 spend an average 8.8 hours per week doing so.

 Amongst Gamers the largest group is 15 to 24 year old males who are most at risk of permanently damaging their hearing. This group spends the most amount of time gaming and are also the most attracted to the “loud” games. Furthermore a majority of them live in a shared accommodation and use headphones so as not to disturb others. This group also the most likely to take part in other activities which can be harmful to their hearing such as listening to music through headphones, going to gigs and festivals, and nightclubs.

 Unfortunately the price of their enjoyment could well be significant and permanent hearing damage. Whilst there is clearly a risk to the Gamer, it could transfer as a liability to the games companies in the form of legal action relating to their duty of care.

 The first significant step is to make Gamers aware of how much sound exposure they are experiencing and what they can do to prevent hearing damage, because hearing damage is permanent

 Hearing damage is caused by the combination of how long you listen (time), how loud you listen (volume), and what you listen to (energy content). The combination of these three factors create a “sound dose”, if the dose is too high it starts to damage your hearing.

 The UN’s World Health Organisation and hearing conservation organisations are increasing awareness of the risks and advise users to restrict their daily sound dose to less than 85dB average over 8 hours.

 Gamers who use headphones currently have no realistic way to indicate what level they are listening at and how much of their daily sound dose they have used. The answer will be to provide them with an intelligent sound dose measurement app or software, giving them their individual sound dose exposure information and guidance, with optional protection, so that for the first time they can make informed decisions about their hearing health.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Army to Launch Another Competition for New Soldier Radio

In the modern world the army has to have perfect communications, from coordinating attacks to communicating with other platoons, on the battlefield it really could mean the difference between life and death. This article plans to find the next Military radio.

U.S. Army tactical radio officials plan to launch a competition for a new handheld radio next year that would give soldiers twice the capability of the current Rifleman Radio.

The Army currently uses the single-channel AN/PRC 154A Rifleman Radio as its soldier handheld data radio. It runs the Soldier Radio Waveform, which small-unit leaders use to download and transmit maps, images and texts to fellow infantry soldiers in a tactical environment.

If they want to talk to each other, they often rely on another single-channel handheld -- the AN/PRC 148 MultiBand Inter/Intra Team Radio, or MBITR, which runs the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio, or SINCGARS, for voice communications.

The Army plans to release a request-for-proposal in 2017 for a two-channel radio that will allow soldiers to run the Soldier Radio Waveform, or SRW, for data and SINCGARS for voice on one radio, according to Col. James P. Ross, who runs Project Manager Tactical Radios.

The change will mean that soldiers will no longer need the 148 MBITR and be able to rely on the new, two-channel radio for both data and voice communications, Ross said.

"We know industry can meet our requirements. … We know it's achievable," he said.

The move represents a change in strategy for the Army since the service awarded contracts in 2015 to Harris Corporation and Thales for a next-generation version of the Rifleman Radio.

"We went out with a competition for the next generation of the [Rifleman Radio]. Two companies, Harris and Thales, competed," Ross said. "We went through testing, and we were on the verge of being able to buy more of them when the Army said, 'Our strategy now is two-channel.' "

The Army had planned an initial buy of about 4,000 Thales AN/PRC-154B(V)1 radios and Harris AN/PRC-159(V)1 radios, according to Army program documents for fiscal 2015.

"We will not be taking action on those," Ross said.



The current Rifleman Radio was developed as part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit, or HMS program. HMS radios are designed around the Army's tactical network strategy to create secure tactical networks without the logistical nightmare of a tower-based antenna infrastructure.

It's also a key part of the Army's Nett Warrior system. It hooks into an Android-based smartphone and gives soldiers in infantry brigade combat teams the ability to send and receive emails, view maps and watch icons on a digital map that represent the locations of their fellow soldiers. The concept came out of the Army's long-gestating Land Warrior program.

The Army purchased about 21,000 Rifleman Radios under low-rate initial production between 2012 and 2015.

Army officials maintain that are enough single-channel, handheld radios already produced under the low rate initial production that are sitting waiting to be fielded. The service plans to field another two brigade combat teams per year with the single-channel Rifleman Radios through 2019.

The Army will conduct testing of two-channel radios in 2017 and early 2018 and then down-select to one or two vendors sometime in 2018, Ross said. Operational testing is scheduled for 2019 and fielding will begin in 2020 if all goes as planned, he added.

For now, the Army intends to field four BCTs a year with two-channel handheld radios, Ross said.

Small-unit leaders would then be able to retire the MBITR radio from their kit -- a weight savings of about three pounds, according to Army officials at Program Executive Office Soldier.

"One thing the PEO Soldier is very passionate about is weight -- driving that weight down that the soldier carries," said Lt. Col. Derek Bird, product manager for Ground Soldier Systems, which helps oversee the Nett Warrior program.

"If we can cut three pounds off a soldier by taking two radios and shrinking it to one … that is a big deal."

Icom America announces new series of NXDN IDAS mobiles and portables

The new range of Icom Radios, the 3400 and 4400 range. With a new colour screen and an SD card slot. Icom really are making strides in the radio market, We just hope that they keep the same connection types, so we can use our icom earpieces.

Icom America recently showcased a new series of multi-mode UHF/VHF NXDN IDAS radios that are designed to provide users with a flexible feature set and an enhanced user interface.

“It’s firmware upgradeable and licensed for different features,” Mark Behrends, senior manager of strategic sales at Icom America, said during an interview at the company’s booth during APCO 2016 in Orlando. “So, you pay for the basic radio, and you license up for the features that you want.”

While the next-generation IDAS radiosâ€"the 3400 series for VHF portables, 4400 for UHF portables, 5400 for VHF mobiles and 6400 for UHF mobilesâ€"continue to operate on the VHF/UHF bands with slightly more spectral range than previous models, this new series features a color screen, a “really intuitive” interface and greater software-upgrade flexibility, Behrends said.

“What it really changes is the user interface and the usability of the radio,” he said. “So, you can have conventional standard, or you can license up for Type D trunking or Type C trunking.”

Programming the radios can be accomplished via Bluetooth, a USB port and Icom’s standard connections, Behrends said. The Bluetooth functionality allows the radios to work with myriad accessories and third-party applications, he said.

Behrends noted that the new radios support secure-digital (SD) cards, which enable additional flexibility for users.

“An SD card is pretty handyâ€"you can record on it, you can capture GPS waypoints on it, you can program ICFS files and add new firmware through the SD card,” Behrends said.



Icom America expects this series of radios to be available this fall, after the products complete FCC testing, according to Behrends. Pricing will differ based on the type of screen included, but it generally will be comparable to Icom’s “higher-end IDAS product,” he said.

http://urgentcomm.com/icom/icom-america-announces-new-series-nxdn-idas-mobiles-and-portables