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Occupational health effects linked to terrestrial trunked radios (TETRA)

Tetra has been the main stay for the Emergency services for over 10 years and it has been a used by other industries for longer than that. There has been plenty of time for health concerns to be brought up and as the technology is similar to mobile phone, which has been around for 20+ years and radio communications (walkie talkies) for much longer than that, and no really hard evidence has ever been brought that either of these two cause health issues, this article probes the possibilities of TETRA causing health concerns, see what they uncover below.

The use of terrestrial trunked radios (TETRAs) has raised concerns about health and sickness absence. Jackie Cinnamond looks at the evidence for a precautionary approach.

The British police and the other emergency services use a communication system involving technology called TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio), which is halfway between a mobile phone system and a walkie-talkie.

At one NHS trust during the autumn of 2013, it was noted that there seemed to be a correlation between increasing levels of sickness absence in ambulance staff and the recent introduction of TETRAs.

This assumed association was based upon clinical presentations of cases being seen in occupational health practice involving ambulance service employees, who maintain that their portable radio handsets are causing them to experience adverse health effects.

TETRA is the leading public safety radio communications system worldwide, and serves to enhance the function of almost 500,000 police, ambulance and firefighting employees (Airwave solutions, 2012; Motorola, 2007).

The Government commissioned TETRA in 2005 at a cost of £3 billion. It did so in response to concerns raised by the Police Federation regarding the use of a two-way radio communication system and its link with breast cancer in female operatives (Police Federation News, 2005).

The use of TETRAs was contentious due to similar health fears raised by the Health Protection Agency and its working group of 2001. Consequently, the Airwave Health Monitoring Study started in 2009 and the findings are due to be released in 2018 (Imperial College London, 2009). This long-term, observational study is investigating health outcomes of TETRA users within the police force.

Initial concerns were raised by Lancashire police after it was introduced, when almost 200 police officers began to experience symptoms of nausea, malaise, head pain, insomnia, skin complaints and two cases of oesophageal cancer (Farrell, 2002; Police Federation News, 2005).

Comparably, these symptoms correlate with reports of symptoms experienced by the ambulance employees within this trust, soon after the TETRA system was purchased, and which could be associated with electromagnetic radiation emitted by this technology.

Technical issues related to TETRAs

Radiation is a source of energy produced during atom separation. The process of ionisation results in the addition, or removal, of one or more electrons from an atom or molecule.

The force of the electromagnetic energy waves released during separation are categorised as either non-ionising, where the energy released is insufficient to ionise matter, or ionising radiation, where adequate energy is present to ionise matter (Tillman, 2007).

Ionising radiation is associated with the X-ray process; and non-ionising radiation is associated with the transmission and receipt of mobile telecommunication signals (IEGMP, 2000).

Electromagnetic fields are quantified by their wavelength, and the frequency at which the wave pulsates (Sanchez, 2006).

The wavelength frequencies are expressed in Hertz (Hz) and oscillate within a spectrum where one Hz is one oscillation per second, and one kiloHertz (kHz) is 1,000 Hz. Radios using 16-17Hz should be avoided as these frequencies are known to adversely affect health. TETRAs operate at a frequency of 17.6Hz

Potential implications for health

Mobile telecommunication devices are a cause of contention. The health effects associated with their use remain unproven (Kundi, 2009). Human stem cells are more susceptible to electromagnetic fields compared with differentiated human primary cells. The constraining influences of electromagnetic fields upon DNA regeneration in human stem cells could manifest itself in the development of abnormalities within the DNA replication process. Consequently, the initiation of cancer may result (Valberg et al, 2007).

With an estimated 500,000 emergency service employees currently using TETRA systems, if a causal relationship between the use of portable radio handsets and cancer development was subsequently established, then this could present a significant OH and public health challenge (Health Professionals Council, 2011; Dhani, 2012).

Current research

The incessant proliferation of wireless telecommunications technology use has intensified public fears and generated international debate regarding the chances of cancer developing as a direct consequence of exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted from devices such as mobile phones (Kundi, 2009).

Research findings accumulated over the past decade suggest a causal relationship between electromagnetic exposure through the use of wireless telecommunication systems and cancer development (Levis et al, 2011). Conflictingly, current research results conclude that there is insufficient evidence, or none at all, to suggest that acceptable electromagnetic frequencies emitted through mobile phone use can cause adverse health conditions or cancer (Kundi, 2009).

However, the majority of current research studies are sponsored by the telecommunication industry and, therefore, findings tend to significantly underestimate cancer risk. The overall accumulation of research findings, regardless of study design imperfections and financial bias, leans towards the opinion that there is an increased likelihood of a causal relationship between mobile phone use and cancer (Kundi, 2009; Levis et al, 2011).

Legislation related to TETRAs

Although most technology poses some level of risk to human health, such threats must be measured precisely and dependably (Levis et al, 2011). Presently, two international organisations – the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) – have produced guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields within the UK and the European Union (EU).

The ICNIRP (1998) recommendations have been integrated into the European Council Recommendations (1999) and have subsequently been incorporated into statute in Germany (WHO, 2011).

Limits for human exposure to electromagnetic fields have been set accordingly by the ICNIRP and the NRPB (1993) at between 10 and 300 GHz. However, the ICNIRP guidelines have established an upper limit for occupational exposure that is five times higher in employees than it is in the general public (IEGMP, 2000). The exposure limit values are referred to as “basic restrictions” and are based upon specific absorption rate (SAR), which equates to the rate at which the body absorbs energy in relation to each unit of body tissue (WHO, 2011).

Precautionary principles for TETRA use

In the absence of accurate guidance and methods for measuring exposure levels, the robust research evidence that establishes a causal link between electromagnetic exposure and cancer should be acknowledged and precautionary principles implemented (Hardell et al, 2005).

Precautionary principles with regard to electromagnetic radiation are defined by Valberg et al (2007) as implementing a safety-conscious approach prior to a significant causal link between electromagnetic fields and cancer development being established. The idea behind introducing precautionary principles is to try to reduce the degree of public concern regarding the potential health implications of exposure to electromagnetic fields (Wiedeman and Schutz, 2005).

However, the implementation of precautionary principles would be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis and, therefore, would be measured against what the populace deems financially equivalent to the cost of similar risks to society (Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, 2001).

Furthermore, their implementation may adversely increase the publics perception of risk and induce a psychosomatic-related development of adverse health problems and proceed to over burden already stretched resources unnecessarily.

However, the Bioinitiative Working Group (2012) contends that the public health approach to addressing exposure to electromagnetic fields should be viewed in the same regard as passive smoking and established on the current scientific evidence accessible.

Implications for OH

Despite the health risks associated with electromagnetic field exposure, the National Policing Improvement Agency continues to emphasise to its employees that the only adverse health effects of electromagnetic fields are established through tissue heating at significant levels.

It also discredited the accounts of the symptoms experienced by employees as psychosomatic conditions (Farrell, 2002; Police Federation News, 2005).

However, Kundi (2009) affirms that the carcinogenic effects of electromagnetic fields over a prolonged latency period are equivalent to the same intensities for smoking-related cancers. Furthermore, the latency period for cancer development is estimated to be 10-30 years. This raises concerns regarding the increased age of retirement, because occupational health departments could potentially have to adapt to accommodate older workers who have been subjected to long latency periods of electromagnetic exposure and its associated health conditions.

The Global Occupational Health Network (2006) advocates that staff undertaking occupational roles with a potential carcinogenic risk should be properly educated and instructed about the appropriate precautionary measures for working with carcinogens, in accordance with health and safety protocols.

The duty of care under s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974) requires employers to implement what is reasonably practicable to safeguard the health and safety of their employees through the establishment of safe systems of work, and to ensure that staff are adequately informed regarding any potential hazards.

The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones maintains that a precautionary approach to the use of mobile phones be adopted until more detailed and scientifically robust information on any potential health effects becomes apparent.

Conclusion

Telecommunication technology will continue to evolve and may be associated with future health risks. In the absence of any substantial research evidence to conclusively prove that exposure to electromagnetic fields does not pose a risk to health, precautionary measures should be implemented.

The emphasis of these measures should include policy changes that keeps pace with technological developments. This goes hand in hand with evidence-based practice and processes that educate employers and employees, aimed at minimising the potential health risks associated from prolonged electromagnetic field exposure. The findings of the airwave health monitoring study are eagerly awaited.

2016 year in review: Motorola’s resurgence

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

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

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

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

Moto G4 series: Ushering in a renaissance

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

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

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

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

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

Moto E3 Power: The odd one out

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

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

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

The attack of the Modular smartphones

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

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

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

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

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

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

The stunning all-metal Moto M

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

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

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

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

What’s next?

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

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.

Why Wired Security Earpieces Will Not Be Going Away Any Time Soon

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 radio 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 covert earpiece on the other hand greatly reduce the possibility of such malpractices as it would be hard to physically interfere with transmission without anyone noticing.

Misplacing earpieces during an incident

In the event of an incident, it would be hard to misplace a wired covert earpiece. This is because, when an agent is on the move or if they make any vigorous movements, the covert 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 security 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.

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

AXUM: THE FUTURE OF WIRELESS AUDIO

This article is the transcript of an interview with Igal Golva, CEO of Axum earphones, wireless earphones with secure fittings, designed for people doing exercise. A really interesting article about why these earphones are different to others on the market and what their plans are for the future of the company.

Mobile audio has always been a difficult balancing act. The need for great audio on the go has never been more prevalent. With smartphones now a staple for most people’s daily commute, exercise and fitness, the need for an audio solution that can be portable while still sounding good is the holy grail.

Apple, with the iPhone 7 has also forced people’s hands. The headphones they used to use are no longer as easy to pull out and plug in without the use of a dongle. This is where Bluetooth audio options come into play, and where the Axum wireless headphones are planning to make a splash. Currently on Indiegogo, the Axum are aiming to give people great audio, while ensuring they maintain that mobile, ultraportable feel. Currently at 528% funded, the Axum is proving to be a product many people want to get their hands on. We had a chance to talk to Igal Golvan, CEO at Axum, about what the headphones can do for audio and fitness and how they hope to change the way people view Bluetooth audio.

Axum: The Future of Wireless Audio 1

CGMagazine: Could you tell us a little about what Axum does and how these new headphones stand above the competition?

Igal Golvan: First of all, we not only offer four hours playtime (while others offer 1.5-2 hours) you can also get an additional four with the portable charging case. We achieved it by eliminating any unnecessary features. We are aiming to reach fitness junkies like us that need three things: fit, sound and battery life.

Our designers made a unique design that will fit you during the most extreme sport activities. In the last months all we did was test the earphones in every sport activity you can imagine .This included cycling, running, CrossFit , snowboarding and even sky diving .

The issue with True Wireless Earbuds is that all our competitors see this product as the latest technology in the headphones industry and as such they’ve aimed the technology at early adopters. Unlike them we understand the real potential of the product to become the mainstream earbuds of athletes, as the lack of cables is something so comfortable no one can even imagine, only when doing sport activities and listening to Axum earphones will you really understand the definition of freedom!

Axum: The Future of Wireless Audio 2

CGM: Could you go over what M-voiD® sound technology brings to the table?

IG: Sure. M-voiD stands for Multidisciplinary virtually optimized industrial Design. It’s a technology for the realistic simulation of audio systems using CAD data. It is a sophisticated technology that paves the way to reproduce outstanding sound performance to let consumers discover that earphones deliver the emotions and excitement comparable with a concert.

Realistic and predictive simulations by means of a fully coupled multiphysical electrical-mechanical-acoustical simulation model are the heart and driving backbone of M-voiD® technology. The major advantage of M-voiD® is that acoustic problems can be identified and resolved in the virtual domain before any prototype is being built.

Sound characteristics are virtually measurable and assessable and can be optimized on the virtual model. It is not just limited to the graphical reproduction. M-voiD® listens to the virtual sound of the earphone already on the computer by means of a special reproduction technique (called auralization), enabling improved sound. Bottom line, while even the largest companies out there can test 100 or maybe 10,000 prototypes to check and improve the sound quality before releasing the final product, we had the ability to test sound quality from over 10 million prototypes.

Besides that, Konzept-X also helped us with the driver design itself to maximize the results after we’ve changed the internal design.

Axum: The Future of Wireless Audio 3

CGM: With your Indigogo doing so well, do you foresee this will delay the final release?

IG: Exactly the opposite. We planned to wait until the funding period is over to head into mass production, but now that we understand the demand we’ll start doing it ASAP.

CGM: Why the choice to go with Indigogo over an option such as Kickstarter?

IG: We thought about KS, however the Indiegogo team was much more supportive and offered lots of relevant information on how to succeed with crowdfunding . We are product people and don’t understand crowdfunding, so a supportive team was something very important for us.

CGM: Do you plan to offer a retail version of these headphones?

IG: Of course, but first we’ll ship everything to our backers and then we’ll think about retail.

CGM: For the gamer on the go, will these offer anything beyond what is already in the wild?

IG: The perfect fit of Axum earbuds is something like you’ve never experienced before, you can see the bulky design of other brands such as Samsung and Motorola The last thing you want to do is wear those gigantic things all day long.

Axum: The Future of Wireless Audio 4

CGM: How do you think these headphones will do with the fitness crowd beyond just the music listener?

IG: We believe that beside the sound quality, the fit and comfort is something they’ll be addicted to. We noticed the reaction of the people while testing them out in the gym and we guarantee that once you try Axum earbuds you’ll never be able to use wires again!

CGM: Are there any obstacles you will need to overcome to bring these to market?

IG: Yes, there are many obstacles of unawareness from the customers. Many people are not familiar with this concept and think of it as a regular mono Bluetooth ear piece, so we are heading to a long journey of explaining our product and turning it into mainstream.

Axum: The Future of Wireless Audio 5

CGM: How do you feel these headphones will do with a crowded market? What sets Axum apart?

IG: We have full confidence in our product. First of all we know 100% that no matter how good your BT earbuds are, if they are not True Wireless they can’t compete with us. As for other True Wireless companies out there, based on their design they’ve never thought about athletes as their potential customers and it’s a shame as this concept is perfect for fitness and exercising. So we already have a huge advantage on them.

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.”

A review of the Icom IC-7300 direct RF sampling transceiver

Icom and ham radio go hand-in-hand, one of their main markets is supplying top of the range equipment, this IC-7300 follows on from the wonderful IC-F7200 (which is a favourite in the office) and sits along side the new range of digital IC-F1000 & 2000 radios that are going really well, but have a new connector type, so new icom earpieces are needed. Read the comprehensive review we found from the swling.com website.

In August 2015 at the Tokyo Hamfair, Icom debuted a new type of transceiver in their product line––one featuring a direct RF sampling receiver. Essentially, it was an SDRtabletop transceiver.

At about the same time that the IC-7300 started shipping around the world, Icom pulled their venerable IC-7200 off the market. Yet the IC-7200 was established as a well-loved product, due to its highly sensitive receiver, its relatively robust front end, and its quality audio. Moreover, it was simple to operate, which made superb as a Field Day or radio club rig.

Therefore, even though the IC-7300 promised much more versatility than the IC-7200, for its price point it had a tough act to follow.

So, of course––even more so than with any other radio Icom has introduced in the past few years––I was eager to get my hands on a IC-7300.  I’m very fortunate that my good friend, Dave Anderson (K4SV) was one of the first purchasers of the IC-7300, and that he didn’t mind (after only having the rig perhaps one week!) allowing me to borrow it for a several weeks for evaluation.

Note:  I should state here that since this rig was loaned to me, I evaluated it based on the firmware version it shipped with, and made no modifications to it.

Icom-IC-7300-FrontThis review primarily focuses on the receiver’s performance, functionality and usability.

Introducing the Icom IC-7300

In recent years, the “big three” ham radio manufacturers have been using color displays, and––Icom most especially––touch screens. While I’m no fan of backlit touch screens in mobile applications, I  think touch screen displays make a lot of sense in a base radio. If carefully designed, a touch screen can save an operator from heavily-buried menus and decrease the number of multi-function buttons on the front panel.

The challenge, of course, is making a display with intuitive controls, and one that is large enough, and with sufficient resolution, to be useful to the operator. In the past, I’ve been disappointed by many displays; the most successful have been incorporated in DX/Contest-class (i.e., pricier) transceivers, meanwhile, entry-level and mid-priced transceiver displays often seem half-baked. While the graphics may be crisp, spectrum displays at this price point are often too compressed to be useful, and if not a touch display, force the user to pause operation in order to find the correct knob or button to change settings. In such cases, I find myself wondering why the manufacturer went to the expense of a color display at all––?

Icom-IC-7300-Display

But what about the C-7300 display?  I’m thoroughly pleased to report that Icom did afantasticjob of balancing utility and function in design of the IC-7300’s color touch display and front panel. There are  number of ways you can chose to display and arrange elements on the screen–since I’m an SDR fan, I typically chose a display setting which gave the waterfall the most real estate. Of course, one can chose to give the frequency display priority or a number of other arrangements.

User interface

I can tell that Icom built upon their experience with the IC-7100––their first entry-level touch screen display transceiver.

I was able to get the IC-7300 on the air in very little time. Within five minutes of turning on the IC-7300, I was able to:

  • change the display to feature a spectrum waterfall;
  • change the span of the waterfall display;
  • adjust the TX power output;
  • change the filters selection and the transmit mode;
  • change bands and make direct-frequency entries;
  • adjust notch, passband, and filter width;
  • adjust AF and RF gain;
  • set A/B VFOs and operate split;
  • change AGC settings;
  • turn on Noise Reduction/Noise Blanker, and
  • adjust compression.

Basically, I found that all the essential functions are clearly laid out, accessible, and highly functional.  Impressive.

The IC-7300 ships with a manual–– aptly titled, the “Basic” manual––and a CD with the full and unabridged operations manual.  The Basic Manual covers a great deal a lot more than the manual which accompanied the Icom ID-51a. If you read through the manual, you’ll readily familiarize yourself with most of the IC-7300’s higher function operations, and especially, you’ll be able to adjust the settings to your operation style. The Manual is written in simple language, and includes a lot of diagrams and graphics.

If you’re like me, you will find you’ll also need to reference that unabridged manual, so hang on to the CD, too.

Still, I imagine there’s a large percentage of future IC-7300 owners that will never need to reference the manual––especially if they don’t care about tweaking band edges or similar settings. Yes, believe it or not, it’s that easy to use.

Operation

Icom-IC-7300-Function-Buttons

While I spent a great deal of time listening to CW and SSB in various band conditions and at various times of day, I spent less time on the air transmitting.

With that said, all of my transmitting time was in CW since the IC-7300 mic was accidentally left out when my friend loaned me the rig.

I’m please to report that CW operation is quite pleasant. All of the adjustments––RF Power, Key Speed, and CW Pitch––can be quickly modified using the multi-function knob. While in CW mode, you can also toggle full break-in mode, which is quite smooth, via the function button and touch screen.

SSB functions are similar. While in  SSB mode, the multi-function knob allows you to change the tx power, mic gain, and monitor level. The function button opens an on-screen menu with VOX, compression, TBW, and the monitor toggle.

Here’s a short video I made with my phone while I made a few adjustments to the IC-7300:

Of course, my smartphones’s microphone can’t accurately reproduce the audio from the IC-7300, but you probably get the idea.

The only annoyance I noted––and perhaps I’m more sensitive to this, being primarily a QRPer––is that the 7300’s cooling fan starts up each time you key up. It even comes on when transmit power is at its lowest setting. I find this a little distracting in CW.  Fortunately, however, the 7300’s fan is fairly quiet and operates smoothly.

Receiver performance and reader survey results

Since our radio comparison shoot-outs have been particularly popular (and useful; check out our shoot-out between top portables, and ultra-compact radios, and others), I decided it would make sense to invite our informed readership to evaluate the Icom IC-7300’s performance in a series of blind, informal tests. (For information about these surveys,please read the first survey.)

Below, I’ve matched the labels (Radio A/Radio B) with the radio models.  I’ve also included pie charts which show the results from the survey.

Icom IC-7300 vs. WinRadio Excalibur

Weak Signal CW (40 meter band)

CW

Based on listener comments, those of you who preferred the ‘7300 did so because the CW was more interpretable and stable.

Some of you noted that I didn’t quite have CW at the same pitch on both rigs. I believe this is because the IC-7300’s calibration was ever so slightly off. This has since been addressed.

Weak/Strong SSB QSO (40 meter band)

SSB

This result was almost tied. The Excalibur’s audio––without any adjustments––has a fuller and “bassier” sound. The ‘7300 can be adjusted to have similar characteristics, but the default EQ settings produce very flat audio. Many of you commented that the IC-7300 more faithfully produced audio optimized for SSB.


 

Shortwave Broadcast recordings

The following recordings were made on the 31 meter broadcast band in the evening. Both radios had the same filter width: 9 kHz and 8.2 kHz.

Weak Shortwave AM (Radio Bandeirantes 31 meter band)

Weak-SW-AM

There was a noticeable preference for the WinRadio Excalibur in this particular audio set. Even though the Excalibur’s audio splattered a bit, the content was more interpretable. The IC-7300’s audio sounded flat in comparison––again, something that can be adjusted quite easily in the ‘7300’s audio settings.

Strong Shortwave AM (Radio Romania International, French 31 Meter Band)

Strong-SW-AM

Once again, the Excalibur won favor, but I imagine results would have been closer had I adjusted the ‘7300’s audio EQ.


 

Mediumwave Broadcast recordings

Note that the following mediumwave recordings were made during the morning hours (grayline). The strong station is the closest AM broadcaster to my home; it’s not a blow-torch “Class A” type station, merely the closest local broadcaster.

In the “weak” sample, I tuned to 630 kHz where multiple broadcasters could be heard on frequency, but one was dominant.

Both radios are set to a filter width of 9.0 kHz.

Strong Mediumwave AM (1010 kHz)

Strong-MW-AM

Two out of three listeners preferred the Excalibur in this example.

Weak Mediumwave AM (630 kHz)

Weak-MW-AM

In this particular example, the IC-7300 could not pull the strongest broadcaster out of the pile as well as the WinRadio Excalibur. In fairness, the Excalibur was using AM sync detection, something the IC-7300 lacks.

Icom IC-7300 vs. Elecraft KX3

IMG_20160424_105444629

I also decided to pit the IC-7300 against my well-loved Elecraft KX3.


Audio Clip 1: CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft KX3: Radio A

Elecraft - CW

Based on comments, readers who preferred the IC-7300 felt the CW sounded more pleasant and stable.


Audio Clip 2: Weak Signal CW (20 meter band)

Elecraft - WeakCW

Your comments indicated that the CW seemed to “pop out” of the noise slightly better with the IC-7300.


Audio Clip 3: Weak/Strong SSB

(Sable Island working Asia/Pacific on 20 meter band)

Elecraft SSB

These results were spilt in the middle. Again, I believe this comes down to personal preference in the audio. And again––in both radios––the audio EQ can be adjusted to suit the operator.


Receiver performance summary

I enjoy producing audio clips for readers to compare and comment upon. Each time I’ve done so in the past, I’ve had listeners argue the virtues of a particular audio clip while others have the complete opposite reaction to that same clip. Not all of us prefer our audio served up in the same way. No doubt, there’s a great deal of subjectivity in this sort of test.

I’ve had the IC-7300 on the air every day since I took possession of it. I’ve listened to SSB, CW, and lots of AM/SW broadcasters.

And here’s my summary: the IC-7300 is an excellent receiver. It has a low noise floor, superb sensitivity and excellent selectivity. I even slightly prefer its audio to that of my Elecraft KX3, and I’m a huge fan of the little KX3.

I’ve written before about how difficult it is to compare SDRs; the problem is that there are so many ways to tweak your audio, filters, AGC, noise reduction, etc. that it’s hard to compare apples with apples.

In the audio samples above, the IC-7300 and WinRadio Excalibur were both set to their default audio settings. In SSB and CW, the IC-7300 excels, in my opinion. CW seems to pop out of the noise better and SSB is more pleasant and interpretable. The Excalibur has a better audio profile for AM broadcasters, though. Its default audio simply sounds fuller–more robust.

The audio from the IC-7300 on AM sounded absolutely flat. However, if I tweak the audio of the ‘7300, adding more bass, it instantly sounds more like a dedicated tabletop receiver.

I should also mention that while the IC-7300’s built-in digital recording is a fantastic and effective feature, it doesn’t produce audio true to what’s heard through headphones live. This is especially the case when you add more bass and treble response as in the RRI example above. When the audio EQ is set to a default flat, it’s quite accurate.

To be clear:  for broadcast listening, I’ll still reach for my SDRs (the Excalibur, FDM-S2,TitanSDRand CR-1a).

If, however, I have limited space and/or budget for multiple receivers, I’d be quite happy using the IC-7300 as a broadcast receiver on the HF bands.

Speaking from the Shortwave Radio Listener (SWL) perspective, meanwhile, am I pleased with how the ‘7300 handles the broadcast bands?  Most definitely.

And as a ham radio operator, am I pleased with the IC-7300’s receiver––?  Absolutely.

In short:  the IC-7300 seems to have some of the best all-around receiver qualities of any transceiver I know under $2,000.

Summary

Every radio has its pros and cons. When I begin a review of a radio, I take notes of my initial impressions. Here’s my list for the IC-7300:

Pros

  • Excellent sensitivity and selectivity
  • Excellent, highly-customizable RX and TX audio
  • Color touch screen interface
  • Spectrum display is large enough to be useful
  • Intuitive functions
  • Twin PBT is both intuitive to operate and effective
  • Effective RF gain to compensate for noisy band conditions
  • Built-in RX and TX recording, file transfers via common SD card
  • Front panel knobs and buttons are spaced appropriately and easy to use
  • Quiet cooling fan (see con)
  • Decodes RTTY on screen
  • Built-in ATU
  • Antenna analyzer function (not tested)

Cons

  • Lacks secondary receive antenna jack on rear panel
  • Cooling fan immediately starts up on CW/SSB transmit at any power setting (see pro regarding fan noise)
  • Occasionally you may get lost in deeper customized functions
  • Supplied printed basic owner’s manual, while well-written, doesn’t fully cover the IC-7300s functions and options; you must explore the digital owner’s manual in supplied CD.

Conclusion

In a nutshell: Icom has hit a home run with the IC-7300.  If I didn’t already have an Elecraft KX3 and K2, I would buy the IC-7300 without hesitation.

Though the price point is a little high for an “entry level transceiver,” it’s worth every penny, in my opinion. For $1500 US, you get a fantastic general-coverage transceiver with an intuitive interface, nearly every function you can imagine, and performance that would please even a seasoned DXer.

Though I haven’t done and A/B comparison with the IC-7200, I imagine the IC-7300 would prevail in a test. The IC-7300 would certainly wipe the floor with it’s more economical brother, the IC-718.

Radio clubs, take note:

In my view, the IC-7300 has the makings of an excellent radio club rig in which performance, functionality, as well as ease of use are important. I expect that the IC-7300 will not only cope very well with crowded and crazy Field Day conditions, but it will also give any newcomers to the hobby a little experience with a proper modern transceiver. The fact that you can view signals so easily on the spectrum display means that it will be easier to chase contacts and monitor bands as they open and close. Indeed, what better way to mentor a newly-minted ham in modes, contacts, carriers, QRN, QRM, and so forth, than to simply point these out on the IC-7300’s bright, clear display––?

If your club is considering a transceiver upgrade or purchase, do seriously consider the IC-7300. I think you’ll find this rig is up to the task.

And for home? The Icom IC-7300 may be all of the rig you’ll ever need.

Why 2 Way Radio is ideal for Your Business

Effective communication is crucial to the success of any business. Poor communication can easily lead to the collapse of any business regardless of size. If you’re running a huge business where keeping in touch with your staff is important, then you must put in place a very efficient communication system. A system that is not only efficient but also cost effective. These two factors are the reason 2 way radios are popular with modern businesses . A 2 way radio is a communication device that can both transmit and receive signal. It allows users using the same frequency to have a conversation at minimal or zero cost.

Why you should consider using a 2 way radio for your business

There are numerous benefits that a business will enjoy by making a 2 way radio its choice of communication. First, the radio provides a platform where you can conveniently keep in touch with your staff anytime you want. If you are the manager and the firm has several departments where you cannot physically access the staff, then this is the perfect device for you. Second, it’s easy to manage, unlike mobile phones that rely on the service providers. With radio system, you manage it from your premises.

The fact that a 2 way radio can only receive and send information at a set frequency improves your business’ safety. You can keep the frequency a secret such that only certified individuals can access crucial information. The radio also allows you to create several channels for specific groups. This option allows you to call individual groups whenever the need arises. For example, if the information is meant for security department, it will not be necessary to have it broadcasted to other groups.

Its broad geographical coverage is another reason you should have this communication gadget. If your business Covers a vast geographic area such as a farm or a construction site, this is the perfect mode of communication to employ. It can also be an effective security monitoring system if it’s well managed and utilized. Combining this system with GPS and the CCTV can significantly improve matters of security for your business.

But who can use the 2 way radio system?

A 2 way radio is one of the most user friend and flexible communication gadgets. Any firm can use it regardless of size. The radio is indeed the perfect model for a business that is struggling with geographical coverage challenges. It is ideal for shift workers, security staff, production line inspectors, farm workers, construction sites, shop watch and the list is endless. Anyone can use it. It only requires a little bit training on how to receive or to send a signal, and the user will be good to go.

Advantages of 2 way radios

One thing that stands out from this system is the reduced cost of communication- the cost is almost zero-rated compared to the other systems such as mobile phones. A 2 way radio is also very simple to use since you simply press the button to start talking. This speed can be crucial in cases of emergency compared to mobile phones where you will be needed to dial several buttons to make a call.

With this radio system, you can talk to multiple users at once- this is not possible with mobile phones. The gadget is built to military specs -the radio can be used in wet conditions and can withstand even a drop on the concrete surface. 2 way radio is one of the devices that can work in all areas of your business where mobile phones don’t work. The last but not the list of the advantage is that the radio stays on site, and thus different shifts can conveniently share it.

Key questions before installing a 2 way radio system

There are several questions that you must get clear answers to before you install a 2 way radio system. First, the area that the radio system is going to be used must be known. This will determine the power of the transmitter needed to cover that area. The number of people projected to use the radios should be the next question. The answer gives the number of radios required. The last question should be your budget. You must purchase what you can afford without compromising on the quality. With these questions answered, then you can have the most efficient 2 way radio communication system for your business.

Chinese corporation bids to acquire Sepura

This news is making quite a buzz within the stock market forums, With two of our big players in our industry set to merge, this is huge news! Yes, Sepura have had their problems this year and Hytera have increased their market share, but we are not sure is this is good news or bad?

Another Asian corporation is set to hoover up a Cambridge UK technology company in a state of financial flux.

Communications technology business Sepura confirms it is in talks with Chinese company Hytera Communications Corporation Ltd.

It will be an all-cash deal but the acquisition price will be moderate because digital radios company Sepura is in a mess because of cash liquidity issues.

Sepura revealed the takeover talks after its share price spiked more than 25 per cent having nosedived in recent times due to cashflow issues and order delays.

Hytera is a world leading solution provider of professional mobile radio communications and operates globally.

Late today, Sepura issued a statement on London Stock Exchange confirming it was in preliminary talks with Hytera regarding a possible offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of the company.

Hytera confirmed to the Sepura board that any offer was likely to be solely in cash. The usual caveats were issued that there was no certainty any deal would go through and shareholders would be updated on new developments.

Founded in 1993 in Shenzhen, China, Hytera has grown to be a key player in the PMR (Professional Mobile Radio) communication industry with a large customer base in more than 120 countries and regions across the world.

In China, Hytera’s market share ranks first among Chinese manufacturers while globally Hytera has reached second place in the overall terminal category.

As one of the few corporations that masters TETRA, DMR and PDT technologies, and produces all series of products and solutions of all these mainstream digital protocols, Hytera leads in the draft of digital trunking standard in China.

Its acquisition of the Rohde & Schwarz TETRA business in August 2011 further strengthened its competitive edge in TETRA market.

Hytera has established a global sales network with 30 branches in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil and other territories and through  600+ partners across the world.

Hytera has an R & D team of over 1200 engineers in five research centres. Sepura won the Business Weekly Awards Business of the Year title in March after a record-breaking

2015 but hit liquidity problems this summer and has temporarily lost its CEO Gordon Watling to ill health.

http://www.businessweekly.co.uk/news/hi-tech/chinese-corporation-bids-acquire-sepura