We’ve all heard the saying, “there’s an app for that.” Now, devices are evolving to keep up with the ever-increasing introduction of specialized mobile-applications for every field, including public protection.
Push-to-talk over cellular (PoC) has already impacted wireless communications and hardware development in a big way for federal applications, with the introduction of Bluetooth equipped two-way radios, transitional gateways for hybrid systems and smart phone adoption, even among public safety users. Recently, we’ve seen a growing trend toward the use of mobile messaging apps among first responders.
Many of these PoC apps are encrypted, secure and include powerful new features like Location and Message Recording. Plus, with the addition of PTT accessories which enhance audio clarity, offer hands-free convenience and discreet surveillance, more agencies are jumping on the PoC bandwagon.
The Internet ofThings (IoT) has been the impetus behind most wireless innovations and will continue to be until another network technology surpasses it or, as some may fear, it reaches maximum capacity. Mobile apps are being developed daily to fulfill sector-specific needs, such as facial recognition, license plate identification and more. These applications are easily accessible over internet (Wi-Fi) and broadband networks, as well as cellular, allowing extended reach and consistent connectivity.
Additionally, PoC is a more affordable and efficient communications method than traditional land mobile systems as it requires no infrastructure or major equipment investment, which can mean serious savings to government agencies. Thus, end users are hungry for devices optimized to support new vertical mobile applications.
Although trends indicate that eventually every first responder job will have dedicated applications, today’s cellphones may not always fit the utilization. Major manufacturers are already coming up with app-specific devices that are ruggedized for public safety users. And, much like in the computer world, communications software will continue advancing to offer bigger functionality, while hardware will become smaller and more industry-oriented. Doing more with less is an ongoing trend.
It seems new mobile application technologies are acquired as fast as they are launched. The consolidation trend among software companies will continue, as demonstrated by Motorola’s recent purchase of Kodiak’s PTT platform. Consequently, to stay relevant, manufacturers must be able to react quickly.
Lucky for us, if there’s suddenly a need for products to optimize any new technology, Pryme’s ability to engineer on the fly puts us in the unique position to deliver just about anything.
One of the other ways manufacturers can stay relevant is to develop a joint solution with other companies to meet end user mandates. LMR radio and smart phone makers are already working together with PTT app firms and network providers to keep up with PoC demand. As new software and technologies arise, the trend toward synergistic partnerships designed to share the load, or aligning with systems integrators to compete for new business, will continue to spread among hardware companies.
In the past, law enforcement has been somewhat reluctant to substitute smart phones for two-way radios. However, manufacturers are creating devices that look and feel exactly like radios on the outside, but are really 4G phones on the inside. It won’t be long before this transition becomes commonplace.
Pryme has recently been in development on its own versions. Speaker microphones with internal 4G boards and radios with a plug-in sim cards that allow users to talk to anyone in the world. In effect, it’s all just repackaging.
Ultimately, as software and network improvements prove to enhance department security, safety, productivity and response time, you can bet agencies will be converting to the newly developed hardware devices that support them.
Hardware devices that control multiple communication outlets at once, yet are smaller than ever before will soon emerge. Multi-purpose smart watches are already in use among consumers, so why wouldn’t this technology evolve among private sectors as well?
There’s already work being done on a ring-sized Bluetooth Low Energy (BLTE) button that controls everything, including PTT (App. activation), phone calling, channel selection (App. Groups and Channels) and even music programs.
Bluetooth technologies also offer similarsensors to WiFi beacons and near-field technologies that communicate with smart devices at strategic access points to target individualized messages. Government and public safety could find ways to incorporate this kind of location information in future communications and it may soon play a valuable role in emergencyresponse.
This means there will be “more apps for that,” and, of course, new hardware too.
Dave George is president and head engineer at Pryme Radio who holds over 35 patents and has invented multiple award-winning products. George is considered an industry thought leader for his keen insight and years of experience in the communications and technology industry.