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BRUSSELS OFFICE : +32 (0)2 895 5909

Special Reports

Smart push-to-talk

02/08/16

AINA Wireless is taking advantage of high-speed mobile broadband for internet protocol-based push-to-talk (PTT) communication while maintaining user habits. Mobile broadband (Wi-Fi/long-term evolution (LTE)) offers a wide array of versatile usage: push-to-talk (PTT), video recording, geo-locating, emergency dispatch and other functions can be applied to public safety and law enforcement operations such as public and private transportation and lone worker environments. Governments and businesses have invested billions into internet protocol (IP)-based communication, from network infrastructure to smartphone PTT apps, yet innovation of usability for professionals lags behind.

Until now, terrestrial trunked radios (Tetra), also known as walkie-talkies or land mobile radios (LMR), have been used for PTT by government agencies including fire, emergency and public safety services, and in the commercial sector by transportation and logistics, utilities and construction, aviation and maritime, hospitality, and warehouse management. PTT is a half-duplex communication technology allowing instant voice messaging at the push of a button. It is one-to-one and one-to-many communication; one talks and the other(s) listen(s).

Yesterday there were walkie-talkies. Today, there’s an app for that

The narrowband limitations make Tetra unsuited for modern economic activities and police. This is why public safety authorities and most industries have been using mobile broadband for quite some time already.

Even though smartphones can run versatile applications, switching from walkie-talkies to PTT smartphone apps isn’t enough – smartphones are fragile and impossible to use in many critical situations, and users can’t always look at and operate touchscreens. In practice they are of little use for public safety officials or lone workers, because their job requires them to stay hands free.

You can’t chase a criminal and operate a touchscreen phone simultaneously. Remote-speaker-microphones are indispensable

For this reason many public and private institutions continue using walkie-talkie radios for PTT – despite the high costs – and use a smartphone for anything else. According to a survey by Kodiak Networks, a global PTT solutions provider, 75% of all walkie-talkie users use a smartphone to augment their communications.1

Paumax Oy, doing business as ‘AINA Wireless’, is a Finnish developer of wireless communication devices for professional users of PTT over IP. AINA Wireless aims to drive the convergence of walkie-talkie radios with modern mobile broadband technology.

AINA Wireless is specialised in wireless technologies including audio, Bluetooth and embedded software, hardware and mechanical design, such as lean manufacturing processing. AINA recently launched the AINA PTT Voice Responder, a Bluetooth remote-speaker-microphone (RSM) that acts like the remote control of a smartphone. Over 100 million people worldwide who use iOS and Android PTT apps can already buy this device. The RSM is currently the only one of its kind that meets the public safety grade, and the first patent for ‘mobile device control with external device’ was granted in May 2016 by the US Patent and Trademark Office (#9344860). The PTT Voice Responder features multiple buttons for PTT, emergency services, and programmable buttons to assign tasks from an app to the remote device. It also allows regular hands-free phone calls.

AINA Wireless was granted €1.74m in funding under the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase II: Next generation IP-based smart Push-to-Talk communication device for public security – IPCOM.

The introduction of the AINA PTT Voice Responder serves as a market introduction for a new form of PTT devices developed for versatile IP-based communication, and to build brand recognition for high-end public safety grade communication devices made in Finland.

Device development

The step that follows now is to develop a market-disrupting communication device. The IPCOM project kicked off in June 2016 and will execute its development and piloting phases over the next two years. AINA Wireless is developing a communication device that has the potential to mark an inflection point in critical communications by combining traditional walkie-talkie style PTT with mobile broadband capabilities into a single device for public security authorities – IP Communicator is the project name, commercial name may change.

Uptake of PTT with mobile broadband capabilities is currently limited due to the need for pairing the handheld devices with smartphones, which are impossible to use in critical situations. The IP Communicator is a Wi-Fi/LTE-enabled rugged handheld device that eliminates the need for smartphones, walkie-talkie radios or Bluetooth accessories altogether.

Today, a PTT app is downloaded to a smartphone which also establishes the connection to the IP network. When the PTT Voice Responder is connected and remotely controls the PTT app, the smartphone barely serves to host the app and as a gateway to the IP network. The IP Communicator uses a wireless LTE chipset to connect directly to the IP network, and any PTT app will run directly on the handheld device using a small touchscreen.

The IP Communicator pays close attention to grown user habits and user friendliness, and is designed for seamless deployment, allowing quick market adaptation. The device combines several features of smart technology, eliminating the amount of gear professionals have to carry while cutting costs for installation, maintenance and gear into fractions. It features a security-enhanced Android operating system, real-time cloud video recording, encrypted PTT, geo-locating and telemetry,

man-down alerts, and active and passive emergency dispatch. This makes it an all in one single ruggedised smart device with a look and feel similar to a walkie-talkie accessory that professionals have been using for decades.

Communication works even when the networks are down

The rapid and widespread uptake of smartphones is allowing mesh networks to grow at an astonishing rate. New mobile devices are set to launch with a new technology called ‘LTE Direct’ which is being pioneered by Qualcomm and has a range of up to 500 metres – far more than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – and uses less power so the device can be searching for others non-stop. Each mobile device using LTE Direct or similar chipsets serves as a node that creates a worldwide mesh network. This global LTE mesh network will enable users of the IP Communicator to stay connected even when the commercial networks have broken down, e.g. after natural and terrorist disasters.

The IP Communicator will make professional communication agnostic of smartphones and networks while becoming more efficient and safer. A number of mission-critical applications have moved towards using an IP environment and delivering competitive advantage to those who adopt them. The IP Communicator aims to combine many of these into one single device:

  • IP-based communication allows easy interoperability between agencies;
  • IP-based PTT voice messages can be sent in compressed and encrypted IP packets end-to-end, providing a high level of security while maintaining voice quality;
  • Users can be geo-located to accelerate help in the case of a man-down, hostage or other urgent situation that requires immediate assistance;
  • Real-time video recording, cloud computing capability for face recognition and telemetry, such as lone-worker-alert;
  • Security-enhanced Android for public safety use of smartphones;
  • Open source: use default public safety apps or shop for the solutions of your choice;
  • Easy over-the-air deployment, maintenance and upgrade of public safety apps; and
  • Using an LTE chipset that takes advantage of proximal awareness creating a mesh-network: communication even when commercial networks have broken down.
  • http://blog.kodiakptt.com/blog/2015/03/16/lmr-users-shows-that-75-percent-already-use-cell-phones-to-augment-lmr-communications/

Maximilian LeRoux
CEO
Paumax, AINA Wireless
+358 40 322 6717
maximilian.leroux@aina-wireless.com
info@aina-wireless.com

AINA Wireless

Contact Info
Author
Maximilian LeRoux, CEO
Organisation
Paumax, AINA Wireless
Telephone
+358 40 322 6717
Paumax, AINA Wireless
Share Report
Pan European Networks Ltd