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Posted By Brooke Wisdom On May 5, 2010 @ 10:02 am In In the Magazine | No Comments

“Conference call” communications in high-noise situations

[1]By Marcia Gruver

The typical two-way radio found on most jobsites has its limitations. First, in order to talk, you need to press a button, taking one hand off the work in front of you. Second, crew members are only able to talk one at a time. Third, using radios in high noise situations can be difficult to impossible.

Piratecom’s VL6 tackles these problems, offering a hands-free wireless communications intercom for extreme noise conditions. The company, which started five years ago devising communication solutions for marine and government entities, introduced a construction version at World of Concrete.

“On the government side, we worked with a lot of customers – such as volunteer firemen – who had construction backgrounds,” says Romao Carrasco, Piratecom co-founder. “They encouraged us to go into this market since the system offers the ability to communicate in environments up to 150 decibels.”

[2]The system gives up to six users the ability to communicate within a half-mile range outside, or a one-quarter mile range inside a building. The headset has a noise cancelling microphone tuned into the frequency range of the human voice; a filtering technology eliminates extreme noise levels, including noise created by wind, while allowing clear speech. The system’s full-duplex technology means that all crew members on a system can talk simultaneously, instead of the one-talker-at-a-time arrangement on two-ways.

The wireless module, which clips to the user, has an electrostatic touch membrane keypad with no mechanical buttons or switches. This eliminates the possibility of a crew member accidentally tying up a radio system by leaning against it. A lithium polymer battery offers 20 hours of life in a single charge. The system, which offers encryption technology to eliminate eavesdropping, operates in a 900-megahertz license-free brand, requiring no monthly fees.

Initial construction customers have used the system while working in high traffic road construction, cement pumping operations and around cranes. The cost is $1,200 per user, and includes a choice of headsets, a VL6 wireless module and battery charger.

“This is not designed to replace two-way radios,” Carrasco says. “Rather, it’s for situations where those radios don’t work.” EW

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