Why We Still Choose Wired Security 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 security 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 packing 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 radio 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 security earpiece. This is because, when an agent is on the move or if they make any vigorous movements, the radio 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 radio 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.

Maplewood-based 3M launches ‘smart’-hearing protection for hunters, civilian shooters

We all understand the difference between active headset and passive headsets? Active is able to block external sound when it reaches a certain decibel level. This is great in most situations, but for hunters and people that work around guns this sometimes isn’t as protective as it could be, But now 3M have launched a new ‘smart hearing’ Headset

Determined to expand its consumer safety offerings, 3M Co. has introduced a “smart” hearing-protection headset for hunters and shooters that automatically measures and cancels out specific gun noises while simultaneously amplifying voices and phone conversations.

3M’s device, the Peltor Sport Electronic Hearing Protector, was introduced last week with positive reaction at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

The technology is designed to offer superior hearing protection to hunters, firing-range hobbyists and other civilian sports shooters.

While 3M is well known for making ear plugs and other hearing protectors for factories, farms and the military, the new Peltor product is expected to greatly expand its reach into the civilian shooting market.

It is also 3M’s first foray into the adjustable or “smart” hearing-technology arena, officials said.

For the first time, 3M’s new devices can measure the energy coming from each specific gunshot in the area and automatically adjust to suppress each noise for the right amount of time.

Such automatic adjustments protect the hearing, no matter if shooters who are nearby are firing small .22-caliber firearms or automatic rifles, said Lindsay Adams, 3M’s marketing manager for the Peltor Sport line.

The new Peltor Sport headsets also filter out sound from fans, wind and other background noises while amplifying voices.

Shooters don’t need to remove headsets to talk on a cellphone or to hear the people around them. Instead, the technology attempts to make ear protection seamless and constant even if the shooter’s environment changes from inside to outside.

“Hunters need to be able to hear their surroundings,” Adams said.

It took 3M more than a year and eight electronic and mechanical engineers and marketers to produce the new products.

If successful, the Peltor Sport headsets will double and triple 3M’s current protection sales from the hunting and shooting consumer market.

3M has a solid footing in hearing protection in the construction market via channels such as Home Depot and Lowes.

Now, 3M hopes for similar success as it launches the new smart Peltor Sport line in Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shops and on Walmart.com and Amazon.com.

3M launched two versions of its new Peltor headset at the SHOT show. Attendees were able to borrow 3M’s headsets and test them during the preshow firing range event and gave rave reviews.

Unlike previous models, the Peltor Tactical 500 model is Bluetooth capable and offers a noise-reduction rating of 26. The Tactical 300 model is compatible with other mobile devices and offers a noise-reduction rating of 24.

Noise reduction ratings generally range from 0 to 34. The higher the number, the better the noise cancellation.

The new products are expected to sell for roughly $149.99 and $199.99.

“We really feel like these, along with the products we developed in the last two years, round out our portfolio and put us in a competitive position to gain market share,” Adams said.

Both new electronic hearing protectors also feature foldable vented headbands that can release heat and increase comfort.

They sport low-profile cups with rubber bumpers and durable recessed microphones to reduce wind noise.

3M officials declined to reveal the cost to bring the new product to market.

The company does, however, expect the investment to pay off.

Industry analysts agreed, noting that the Maplewood based maker of Scotch tape, respirators, ear plugs, goggles and harnesses has its sight set on a growing market.

Global Industry Analysts Inc. predicts that U.S. hearing-protection sales will grow on average 6 percent a year and reach $714 million by 2020.

Some of that growth will be fueled by regulations and changing hearing-protection needs in workplaces such as factories, oil fields and farms.

If correct, that bodes well for 3M and Honeywell Inc., the two largest players in the nation, followed by SensGard, Westone, Moldex Metrics and David Clark Co. Inc.

Communication: What You May Be Doing Wrong Without Even Realizing

Communication is the key to any business being successful, but communication comes in lots of different forms, understanding the right and proper way of communicating will see you through in your career very well. This article is a very good overview of what communication can mean to you.

As a professional, you certainly know the importance of effective communication. Being an effective communicator is not only about the message, it’s also about the mode of communication and the opportunities you provide for feedback.

Your inability to get the point across thwarts your efforts at effective communication. You can’t just send out a company-wide email and assume everything is copacetic if no one replies. The truth may be that you were ineffective as a communicator, and people didn’t understand—or even pay attention—to your message.

There are some things you might be doing to undermine your effectiveness as a communicator, and you may not even know you’re doing them. Here are some communication pitfalls you should try to avoid:

Over-Communicating

You’re not an effective communicator if you just repeat the same message over and over. If you want to remind your employees about an important deadline, sending out a single reminder would be appropriate. Sending out multiple reminders, however, is overkill—and possibly even an insult to your employees’ ability to remember information. Redundancy in your messages is not only unnecessary, but it’s also counterproductive and a waste of time—for you and your employees. Whenever you send out communication on an ongoing subject, make sure it offers added information and is not merely a reiteration of the material you already shared.

Relying Too Much on One Channel (Or the Wrong Channel)

Today’s technology makes it possible to communicate in many different ways. While it’s easy to do, you shouldn’t get stuck in one particular communication mode. There are so many digital communication channels that work really well these days. Email is a popular tactic and can work well, but people are inundated with email today and often suffer from “in-box overload.” So, you may want to consider using a combination of tactics for impactful news, such as the announcement of a merger or a high-level addition to the company management.

Consider a web-based meeting when you really want to make an impact. According to “The Evolution of Work—The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace,” a study by ADP Research Institute®, nearly 80 percent of employees regard technology positively for allowing deeper connections across distance and time. It just makes sense to consider other forms of digital communication, such as mobile apps or an internal company website.

Being Indirect

Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t help the situation to be vague or unclear. You should try to deliver important news in person—and the more complicated or easily misunderstood the message is likely to be, the more it makes sense for you to sit down across from the person—or team—to convey the message. A direct, in-person approach adds an important component to your communication: The ability to observe others’ facial expressions and body language, which allows you to ensure your message has been understood.

Ignoring Nonverbal Cues

If you listen only to a person words and ignore their nonverbal cues your direct communication may not be successful. Research conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian indicates that 55 percent of our intent is delivered through nonverbal elements, such as facial expressions, gestures, and postures. If employees seem to express agreement with a new policy, non verbal cues such as hunched shoulders, crossed arms, and lack of eye contact may indicate that you still have some work to do in order to get buy-in from your team.

Not Being Open

Secrecy in the workplace often erodes trust in leadership and foments gossip. By being more transparent in your communication, you foster a sense of belonging and trust. Knowledge replaces speculation, and can help reduce gossip and rumors.

Not Listening

Remember—communication is a two-way street. Soliciting feedback is one of the greatest ways for you to know what employees are truly thinking. If you want to improve your communication skills, heed this advice: Speak less, listen more. After you’ve had the opportunity to listen, you can fine-tune your communication skills to be more effective than before.

Software Defined Radio (SDR) Market Forecast By End-use Industry 2014-2020

We are seeing a monumental movement in the radio communication industry, as this very technical article shows the transition from hardware to software within the radio communication industry is just around the corner. With 3G and 4G providing Data and Voice Comms covering large distances, RF communication will find it hard to compete, the simple answer seems to be Tetra, but is that long term? There will always be a need for point to point communications, but larger comms infrastructures could possibly be managed in a different way.

With the evolution of digital electronics the radio market and communication technologies have evolved a lot. Though the concept of software defined radio (SDR) is not new, in the recent years, this market has undergone many changes in terms of technology and uses. SDR is a type of radio communication system where communication is carried out by the use of software on embedded system or personal computer instead of implementing hardware such as filters, amplifiers, mixers, detectors, demodulators and modulators, among others. SDR are capable of transmitting and receiving a wide spectrum of frequency. When the data from a source is converted into digital format, the remaining activities involved in radio communications are carried out with the help of software driven automated functions.

SDR optimizes the tactical information system as embedded software used in SDR helps in the dynamic selection of the communication channel. The number of digital service users is increasing resulting into the improved adoption rate of software defined radio. Public safety, military and commercial use are the three major end-use applications of SDR systems. The demand for SDRs in expected to increase in coming years owing to efficiency and cost effectiveness offered by them. The industry has undergone transformation from analog to digital. Thus, the advance capabilities of digital radio are expected to drive the growth of SDR market. Multiple regulations govern the SDR market and this affects the market growth and trends. For instance, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) legally created a newer class for equipment of SDRs that had streamlined equipment authorization procedure.

Military modernization programs being carried out by several countries such as South Korea, India, Germany, Japan and the U.S and the interoperability provided by SDR are major driving forces for SDR market. The issues faced in the integration of the various sub systems pose a challenge to the SDR market. Further, the development of software platforms, technologies and tools, which allow flexible specification, design and implementation of radio systems, is another significant challenge. Players in software defined radio market have potential opportunity in technical advancements of SDR technology such as resolving the problem of frequency congestion, wide frequency range (spectrum) and improved broadcasting services in future.

Software defined radio market is segmented on the basis of type, end-user application and geography. On the basis of type of SDR, the market is segmented into ideal software defined radio, baseband software defined radio (BBSDR) and high frequency software defined radio (HFSDR). On the basis of end-user industry, SDR market is segmented into defense industry, telecom industry, manufacturing plants, public safety vendors and personal use. U.S. Canada, Japan, France, Brazil, South Korea, India, Germany and Italy have emerged as the leading countries for software defined radio market.

Some of the key vendors in software defined radio market are BAE Systems PLC, Elbit Systems Ltd., IndraSistemas, L3 Communications Corporation, Raytheon Co., Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co KG, Thales Group, Viasat Incorporated, SAAB AB, Rockwell Collins, Northrop Grumman Corp., ITT Corporation, Harris Corporation and Datasoft Corporation, among others.

This research report presents a comprehensive assessment of the market and contains thoughtful insights, facts, historical data and statistically-supported and industry-validated market data and projections with a suitable set of assumptions and methodology. It provides analysis and information by categories such as market segments, regions, product type and distribution channels.

How To Take Care Of Your 2 Way Radio

Buying two way radio equipment is a very beneficial investment, but in order for you to get the most out of your money you should ensure that the equipment is well cared for. If you use and maintain your 2 way radios with proper care, they will function at their optimum capacity and you can expect them to last for many years. While no 2 way radio can last forever, there are some simple practices which can help extend the life expectancy of your 2 way radios and ensure they function at their very best. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the top care tips for your two way radios;

Storage

You should always store your radio(s) correctly so as to keep it in a tip top condition. The ideal environment for storing your radio involves a cool and dry (ideally at room temperature, which should be about 72 degrees Fahrenheit) with limited exposure to the extreme weather conditions like excessive cold or heat, and such other elements of water and sunlight. Excessive temperatures can easily damage the batteries; the moisture may end up corroding the batteries. Also, when storing your 2 way radio, you should make sure that it’s turned off and batteries are removed.

Charging Your 2 way Radio

First of all, you should know that two way radios are usually slightly different, so you need to familiarize yourself with the specific charging instructions of your radio. That being so, it is important to note that nearly all of the manufacturers will advise that you to turn off your radio while it’s charging. If you do not, your radio will be drawing current and also charging at the same time, and this can end up shortening the lifespan of the battery.

Overcharging your radio batteries can also cause numerous problems and will have a negative impact on its’ overall battery life, so you should make sure that when it’s charged fully you unplug its’ charger; do not leave it charging all through the night if its’ likely to remain fully charged for a long period of time while its’ still being charged. When you buy new batteries its’ the only time you can leave the radio charging overnight before you start using them for the 1st time; it’ll help you get the maximum battery capacity.

Day to Day Use

Every two way radios user should be very mindful of their daily use. Although there are some two way radios which are designed to be quite robust, like the explosion proof and waterproof radios, they should still be treated with great care, always. Even if you have a waterproof or explosion proof radio, do not subject it to extreme temperatures.

You should also avoid grabbing your 2 way radio by its’ antenna, as this will eventually have a negative impact on your radio’s reception and transmission quality. In addition, you should also avoid drops so as to maximize the long term functionality of your radio; consider using 2 way radio belt clips so as to reduce the chances of your radio getting dropped and subsequently getting damaged. Protecting the exterior of your radio helps protect its’ interior, thus minimizing the repairs and the replacing of the equipment.

Another important tip to note when it comes to the day to day use of 2 way radios, is you should never expose your radio to any solvents (unless it has been designed to be used in the harsh conditions); this includes any cleaning fluids and alcohol. Also, try and stick with the accessories which are designed specifically for your particular type of radio; this is especially important when it comes to your radio battery, charger and adapter. Using an incompatible accessory can end up shortening your radio’s lifespan and can even destroy it.

Cleaning Your 2 way Radio

You should regularly clean your radio to keep it in good working condition. The most effective and efficient way of cleaning your 2 way radio also happens to be one of the easiest ways as well; strong chemicals or intensive cleaning isn’t necessary. The only supplies you’ll need include some water and a microfiber cloth. The microfiber cloth will effectively wipe away the smudges and dirt without causing any damage to your radio. As for the more stubborn marks and stains, you can use a damp cloth and then wipe until the radio is clean. Remember, never immerse your two way radio in water to clean it.

Conclusion

two way radios are among the most versatile and toughest communication solutions, often lasting for many years before needing any repairs or replacement. However, in order to extend the lifespan of your two way radio even further, it is best to employ the above tips for 2 way radio care to fully secure your investment. Protecting your 2 way radio will not only increase its’ longevity, but it also ensures that you will always have reliable communications. Well, as you can see above, taking care of two way radio is relatively easy, and the amount of maintenance required is minimal. A simple cleaning now and then, proper handling, maintenance and storage is all you need in order to extend the lifespan of your two way radio and keep it in a great working condition.

Yankees Joe Girardi believes earpieces would help speed up pace of play

Here is the UK we commonly see coaches and physios on the football (soccer) bench wearing earpieces to communicate with each other, But this Baseball Coach wants to give the players an earpiece to improve player-to-coach communications. His argument is good, but will he be allowed?

Earlier in the week, Major League Baseball elected to remove the four-pitch sequence of the intentional walk from the game in order to speed up the pace of play. On Thursday, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi threw his two cents into the ring regarding the current pace of play.

However, the veteran skipper did not comment on the recent rule change surrounding the intentional walk but rather the potential for hitters to wear an earpiece similar to that of NFL quarterbacks.

“As far as the pace of the game I am a big proponent of trying to introduce some type of communication through headphones like they do in the NFL, Girardi said on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “I think you can speed the game up that way.

In the NFL, quarterbacks are notorious for having a speaker inside their helmet while players on the defensive side of the football now have such technology in their helmets as well.

“You put earpieces in certain people,” he added. “Realistically you could put it in your hitters helmets and you could say what you wanted. Then its not a sign from me to the third base coach and a sign to the player. Instead of catchers always going out to change signs they could do it through communication. I think you could speed the game up a lot that way. The thing about signs is that signs take time and it slows it down.

However, many have argued that the removal of the four-pitch intentional walk was also parting ways with the potential for human error. Wouldnt the same be true for the lack of signs if Girardis earpiece system were implemented?

A player can very easily misinterpret a sign along the way, which could cause a difference in the game due to human error. Although many fans and people outside of the game would probably have less of an opinion regarding the managers new approach, it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy these days.

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 2020–25.

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 – a trade body that represents global mobile operators – 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 10–50 Gbps (gigabit per seconds) in download speeds (as compared to the 5–12 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 – an essential requirement if the IoT is to take off – 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 impact 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 – 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 and 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, Oxford 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, power 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.”

What exactly is a walkie talkie headset

A Walkie Talkie is a handheld receiver or portable radio. Walkie talkies come in a pair and they communicate quietly with one another using radio waves, on a single shared frequency band.

Almost all of us grew up with walkie talkies. As children, and especially before the age of mobile phones and technology, we all had a pair and played with them in our gardens.

Walkie talkies have made a comeback. Or maybe they never really went out of style but now they’re sophisticated.

Each unit is battery powered and has an antenna for sending and receiving radio wave message. There is a transmitter / receiver and a loudspeaker. The loudspeaker doubles up as a microphone. There is a button that you push to talk, pretty much the same way that an intercom works. Some more sophisticated walkie talkies have separate loudspeakers and microphones; it just depends on what you need the walkie talkie for.

Walkie Talkies with noise cancelling headsets

Technology has changed so much and become so much more sophisticated. In the old days, think of the crackles that came with walkie talkies. It was often very difficult to hear what the other person was saying. But a pair of noise cancelling walkie talkie headsets will reduce or remove any unwanted sounds by using active noise control. Note that this is very different from passive headphones which use technique such as soundproofing. Noise cancelling is not soundproofing.

Our worlds are busy and we become bombarded and overwhelmed by everything around us. We need to listen to some things, but we want to cut out others. Noise Cancelling allows us to do this, while still allowing us to listen to the things we want to listen to at the volume we want them.

Pros of a walkie talkie headset?

Remember when we used to listen to music really loud so we could block out all the other external noise? You don’t need to do this anymore. walkie talkie headsets will block out most excess or excessive sound, or the ones you want blocked out anyway. You can now listen to your music at the volume you want, which does not need to be crazy, and the other external sounds (baby crying, man snoring next to you) will be blocked out anyway. Finally, you can listen to and enjoy music in the way you want to enjoy it, at a natural volume. You can hear the fabulous music, have a rich listening experience, and still not be disturbed by chatter around you.

Noise cancelling headphones are fabulous for when you travel or commute. You may be the kind of person who gets on a plane and train and chats to everyone around you. But you may be more solitary and want to sit down and zone out. You can do this easily with a walkie talkie headset. The beauty is that on a plane you won’t hear the noise of the aircraft or its passengers, but you will still hear the safety announcements.

It’s really easy to work in a noisy environment with noise cancelling headphones. You can focus easily without being disturbed and can make use of any space, productively. You can even go and study your history while at a party or in a restaurant. It is also a good idea to use them at home, while studying for exams or so; they cut out the excess noise and you can focus totally on your work.

Students used to turn up the volume of their earphones in order to cut out the outside world’. But with a walkie talkie headset they are finding it is easier to study when music is at a lower volume and when the outside distractions have been eliminated.

Cons to noise cancelling headphones?

There are always cons to everything. Some parents may say they would prefer no headphones at all. They like their children to be available and to engage more and talk more, but we know this is the way of the world. Everyone uses headphones; parents included/ Use them in moderation of course, but still be sociable and take time out in the day, be headphone free, and engage.

Noise cancelling headphones are not very cheap and are in fact possibly even ten times more expensive than ordinary headphones. However, like anything that costs money, they will last for a long time and are super reliable. They may cost more money but will ultimately give a much better noise-free experience.

Lots of research has gone into the design of these special noise cancelling headphones. Each set consists of inner components that cancel out the disturbing external sounds. Ordinary headphones do not have these components, i.e., you cannot cut out the outside sounds. It is quite obvious then, why noise cancelling headphones are more expensive.

These internal components also use up a lot of power. The power can come from internal replaceable batteries or they can be rechargeable. The walkie talkie headset that carry their own power supply means they are heavier than ordinary headphones. Not all sets carry their own power supply. The ones that are rechargeable are lighter, but they can drain the devices they need to plug into for power.

The quality of sound when using a noise cancelling walkie talkie headset can be compromised. It is unusual though and it is only the most sensitive of ears that would pick this up. There have been very few complaints of a tinny almost mechanical sound, but these complaints are few and far between.

Not all sounds are blocked out by a walkie talkie headset, although we did mention this under pros as well. It is never possible to cancel out all external sounds, but we still need to be able to hear police sirens, pilot announcements or the high pitched screaming of your next door neighbor. All every day external sounds though are muffled and definitely much quieter, and the sounds that you don’t need to hear, are gone.

London Gatwick Airport deploys new radio system from Motorola Solutions

Back in the day, around 2006, the Heathrow and Gatwick radio systems were the envy of many, many businesses, a cutting-edge Motorola analogue trunking system with individual and group setup, that could broadcast messages out across the site or talk to individual radios, something that is taken for granted these days with our digital systems. The Gatwick system has been upgraded and been given the digital touch.

US-based Motorola Solutions, along with its authorised channel partner Servicom, has debuted its new digital mobile radio (DMR) system, Mototrbo Capacity Max, at London Gatwick Airport.

Designed to provide enhanced voice and data communications, the newly installed system connects 1,300 people in the airport’s airside and groundside teams.

Mototrbo Capacity Max will also double the capacity of Gatwick’s current analogue network.

Various applications, such as TRBOnet PLUS and iBeacon, were given along with Mototrbo Capacity Max to improve its data performance.

TRBOnet PLUS is a dispatcher application that allows voice recording, mapping and event logging in the control room, while the iBeacon indoor positioning application sends alerts to individual radios based on location.

Gatwick Airport IT project manager Simon Telling said: “We chose Motorola Solutions’ Mototrbo Capacity Max system not only for how resilient and secure it is, but because of the flexibility it offers us now and into the future.

“We have experienced significant growth over the past decade and we are now approaching the limits of our previous analogue system.

“Migrating to scalable, digital communications will double our capacity and bring new capabilities that will help us improve efficiency and safety for staff, retail partners and passengers across the airport.”

The new Motorola solution will also enable Gatwick’s central controllers to send off the closest employee to an incident, saving time.

The airport recorded more than 4.6 million in passenger traffic in July.

Source – http://www.airport-technology.com/news/newslondon-gatwick-airport-deploys-new-radio-system-from-motorola-solutions-5021249

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 – 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 – 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.