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