The arrival of 5G, cognitive radio and the future of connectivity

We are very excited about 5G, we have already reported on how the UK emergency services are moving over to a LTE network, and inevitably 5G is the next step for better, faster and more capable communications.  Not planned to be deployed until the next decade, we believe that 5G will allow us to communicate better with our Walkie talkies. The original article can be found here.

With faster and more reliable connections, we look at what the next generation of communications could mean for business

From smart cities to the internet of things (IoT), virtually every aspect of the modern world is becoming closely connected.

The extent to which we rely on our devices and the exchange of information means new systems are needed that not only handle far greater bandwidth, but that are capable of being deployed to cover areas that were previously unreachable.

The potential benefits for business are huge, with faster and more reliable connectivity not only enhancing how firms interact with customers and each other, but also lending itself to greater flexible working among staff.

The arrival of 5G

One development that many industry observers believe could be revolutionary is 5G. Following on from 4G, the fifth-generation mobile network is in its early stages of development and is expected to be rolled out between 2020–25.

Any tech that contributes towards the next phase of mobile connectivity is covered by the term 5G. And although there are still no set standards or specifications, the GSMA – a trade body that represents global mobile operators – has outlined eight key criteria, stipulating minimum requirements for speed, capacity and energy in order for something to be considered 5G.

According to Ofcom, once operational 5G could provide between 10–50 Gbps (gigabit per seconds) in download speeds (as compared to the 5–12 Gbps of 4G), and although most experts expect it to be at the lower end of the range, that would still mean you could download an HD movie in seconds.

But rather than simply being faster than the current 4G, it will also allow more devices to access the web – an essential requirement if the IoT is to take off – meaning it could be transformative for business.

Raj Sivalingam, executive director of telecoms for techUK, the trade association for the tech sector, says: “The potential of the IoT, particularly in the enterprise environment, has been hugely debated but its impact is almost certainly still undervalued.

“Mass deployment across sectors will boost efficiency and safety with pre-emptive fault correction; enable automatic reporting of accidents and allow real-time asset tracking, reducing crime and increasing productivity, to name just a few benefits.”

One potential bottleneck for 5G is spectrum availability – or lack of it. Radio frequencies for both 3G and 4G are already overcrowded. The provision of a new bandwidth will require widespread cooperation between operators, manufacturers and governments.

Infrastructure is also an issue, says Sivalingam. “Making the leap to 5G mobile services and getting more fibre into the fixed telecommunications networks will require substantial amounts of investment.

“We need the government and industry stakeholders to work to shift the UK from good levels of connectivity to great levels so that we continue to attract investors and startups, and to foster innovation from within the UK.”

Cognitive radio

One possible solution is cognitive radio. An adaptive radio and network technology, it can sense and respond to its operating environment and automatically tune itself to the best available frequencies, this makes it more reliable in extreme locations where signals are weak, potentially providing dependable, robust connections that are not hampered by interference or geography.

Finland-based KNL Networks has developed a system using the technology that uses short wave radio to transmit internet access to sites in remote locations ranging from oil rigs to polar research stations. KNL Networks CEO Toni Linden says: “We can provide similar connectivity to those from satellites but with a terrestrial radio system. Our radios receive the whole spectrum all the time, so rather than scanning, real-time broadband receiving is going on. Thus we can see and measure everything that’s going on in the spectrum and we can maintain the network connectivity that way.”

The tech opens up the possibility of providing seamless connectivity anywhere, giving business reliable online access to markets in parts of the world that have otherwise been unreachable. It could also enable media and other companies to broadcast without the need for expensive satellites.

Quantum key distribution

It’s not just data transmission, speeds and connectivity that pose challenges in the future, but the safety of that data too. Cybercrime is ranked alongside terrorism as among the most serious threats to the UK [pdf], and with data now the lifeblood of modern business, securing that data is of paramount concern. One technology that could provide the answer is quantum communications.

Conventional encryption relies on sending a decryption key alongside your secret data. The receiver then uses that key to decode your secret information. But problems arise because hackers can also copy this key and steal your data.

Quantum key distribution (QKD) is different because it encodes this key on light particles called photons, and an underlying principle of quantum mechanics means that a hacker trying to read or copy such a key would automatically alter its state, effectively leaving a hacker fingerprint so the sender and receiver know their information security had been breached.

China recently launched a quantum satellite to further research into this technology, with the hope of developing an uncrackable communications network.

In the UK, the Quantum Communications Hub is part of a national network of four hubs led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York. Director Tim Spiller says: “We are developing quantum communications technologies along a number of different directions, notably short-range free space QKD, where the transmitter could be in future mobile phones, and chip-to-chip QKD through optical fibre, where the chips could be in future computers and other devices.”

With two thirds of British business falling victim to cybercrime in the past year the need for better encryption is clear.

Several companies currently offer commercial quantum key distribution systems include ID Quantique, MagiQ Technologies, QuintessenceLabs, SeQureNet and Toshiba, although its high cost and limited range means mainly banks and governments are its main users, with mainstream adoption still some way off.

Spiller added: “Certainly it would be desirable to improve the size, weight, power and cost points of current technologies and our work in the hub and elsewhere is addressing all these factors.”

Paul Lee, head of technology, media, and telecommunications research at Deloitte, highlighted a number of improvements which he expected to see coming down the line, including improved mobile antennae and base stations, as well as improvements to fixed networks such as G.fast that would enable copper cable to operate at much higher speeds.

“As they get steadily faster, new services emerge to exploit these greater speeds, which then requires the deployment of even faster networks. This tail chasing has been going on for decades and won’t stop in 2017.”

7 Different Types Of Headsets You Can Use At Your Venue

There are many instances where people get confused when talking about types of headsets and the associated equipment. In this article, we are going to help you get a clear understanding of the different types of headsets and the associated equipment. With that said, it is important to note that the names that have been given below, are the actual names that need to be used. Without any further ado, lets get started;

In Ear Monitors

Also known as in-ear (or canal) headphones, these devices sit inside the user’s ear canal, and they deliver great sound quality; they ensure a controlled and precise sound. They also fill the ear’s entrance, thus are very effective at sealing out any unwanted external noise. These devices include a transmitter which is controlled by an audio engineer which then transmits to the belt-pack on the user. The in ear monitors allow freedom of movement and are commonly used by modern pop artists. They’re very small and allow them to comfortably hear the rest of the band, and also themselves (this is what’s known as monitoring or foldback). Apart from artists, these devices are commonly used by audio engineers to hear the mix of the vocals and the stage instrumentation for recording studio mixing and/or live performance.

Two Way Radio Headsets

Two way radio headset is a communication device which can transmit and also receive signals. A two way radio headset allows the user to communicate with other people with similar 2 way radio headsets (and are operating on the same channel or radio frequency). 2 way radio headsets are readily available in mobile and also hand held portable configurations. The handheld 2 way radio headsets are also known as walkie talkie headsets or handie talkies. One thing to note about two way radio headsets, is that the user can either transmit or receive signals and not both at the same time.

2 Way Radio Covert Pieces

These are quite similar to the 2 way radios, however, they are much more discreet. 2 way radio covert earpieces are usually used by security personnel as they prefer staying discreet. This type of walkie talkie headset is also ideal for the Door supervisors and security staff.

Wired Show Comms

Unlike Two way radios, these type of communication systems allow for both talking and listening even at the same time. These devices have a closed cup design, meaning they fully cover the ear which helps reduce the ambient noise. Wired show comms come in single muff and double muff versions. They get attached to the belt pack controller which is then physically wired to the system. Because of the cabling that’s involved in wired show comms, there’s less mobility thus are best suited for managers and the static technicians. These specialist communication devices are also commonly used for calling shows.

Wireless Show Comms

These are very similar to the wired Show Comms, only difference is that their belt packs are wireless. The device and the belt pack are compatible which means that the users can freely and comfortably move around, thus are ideal for stage managers, front of house managers, among others. Just like the wired show comms, these devices also allow both talking and listening at the same. With that said, you should know that the wireless show comms are relatively more expensive than the wired show comms. Some of the other applications for these devices include, but not limited to; security personnel, broadcast, marines, theater, and colleges. They can also serve as convenient walkie talkie headset for events.

Radio Performer Headset

This is the device that’s used by presenters and performers. This device allows for the user’s voice to get fed into the sound system where the audience can get to hear them. This device is usually used in conjunction with the radio belt pack system. Most of the devices used today are generally very thin and skin colored which helps reduce visibility when the performer is on stage.

Presenter Talkback

These are the small ear pieces which you see the lead presenters on TV talk shows wearing. This device allows the producer (of that particular TV talkshow or program), to communicate to the lead presenter and update them on the show’s progress. This may be done using a system known as in ear monitoring. Alternatively, wireless show comms systems can also be used.

Ham radio: A last resort when phone lines fail

We at this blog believe in radio communications and will never let it die, understanding the importance that it still plays, and during the worst catastrophes, will be the best form of communication. This story about 9-11 adds proof to this statement.

If disaster strikes, there is a form of communication that can still get through: a ham radio.

When 9/11 hit New York City in 2001, for instance, ham radio operators provided a connection to the outside world.

One of those people was amateur radio enthusiast Bob Kyvig, formerly of White Bear Lake, who now lives in Centerville.

“The only communication out there on 9/11 was amateur radio,” Kyvig recalled. “The telephone lines were jammed and no one was going in or out.”

On the days following that horrific attack, Kyvig assumed the role of messenger, relaying messages from Manhattan to loved ones in the area by calling or knocking on their door. His house calls would go like this: “I am Bob; I am a ham operator. I just communicated with your loved one; they are fine and doing well and they will talk to you soon.”

When White Bear Lake sailor Gerry Spiess landed in Samoa on his historic solo voyage across the Pacific Ocean in 1981, he contacted Kyvig, who connected Spiess with his wife Sally.

When Hugo’s tornado struck in 2008, he and wife Jill remained on the radio as long as they could but had to abandon the “ham shack” as the storm approached. The tornado did $30,000 damage to their home, including Kyvig’s outside antennas.

A ham since 1968, long before Facetime, email or Skype, Kyvig was 20 when he took up the hobby while serving in the Navy. He was stationed in Hawaii and had childhood buddies serving in Germany and aboard the USS Milwaukee. The three met on the radio at least once a week without fail for more than 40 years, until the death of one of the men in 2015.

That connection to people is what Kyvig most enjoys. He chats on the radio to people he’s never met around the world.

“It’s a worldwide network of people enjoying fellowship with other hams,” Kyvig said.

The radio operator answers calls for help in areas of “health and welfare,” and was on Centerville’s first CERT (citizen emergency response team), which is now inactive. He serves as a severe weather spotter too, and gains “insights” as to what is happening around the world by chatting to foreigners.

“We talk about everything from fishing, to weather and local problems,” he said. “It’s very interesting because you find out so much about people across the world. And it’s not just the personal part but handling messages for help in disasters.”

He’s listened to astronauts aboard the space station and scientists at the South Pole. He has talked to people in Russia, New Zealand and most of Europe. For a long time, he kept a conversation going with a man in Norway who lived close to some of his relatives. Wife Jill also has her ham license and enjoys talking to other women, known as YLs or young ladies, across the world. “Lord knows what they’re talking about,” Bob said. “I leave the room.”

Ham buffs do have opportunity to meet at events called “eyeball picnics.” The Kyvigs traveled to a picnic in Branson, Missouri earlier this summer to socialize with other hams and match voices with faces.

Without getting too technical, Kyvig explained that radio signals are bounced up through the ionosphere. The signal goes up and down several times before it hits the final destination and you don’t control where it hits. People who want to contact Kyvig can tune into his call number: WA0ROH, assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which regulates interstate and international communications. The agency requires operators to keep a log of who they talk to on an electronic spreadsheet.

“We could be talking to people the FCC thinks is a bad guy,” he said. “Because we can transmit all over the world without a phone line, some use it to their own means.”

Other countries have comparable agencies.

Each country has its own beginning call letters. The United States uses W, K and N.

“The concept is simple,” he added. “We use what Mother Nature has provided: airwaves. We plug a number in for a country and anyone can answer.”

A true party line, Kyvig said 30,000 people could be listening in on a conversation.

Jill proudly pointed out that Bob earned a master’s degree from The 3905 Century Club. It’s not the typical academic degree, but a difficult achievement nonetheless. “The degree was a challenge,” he said, which explains why only 68 radio operators have received the degree since 1967.

Bob inspired her to get her license, Jill said, and together they do public service events using ham radio.

Invented in the early ’20s, ham equipment is evolving, but affordable. Newbies can do it for about $300, he said. There are antennas on his roof, but mostly they are horizontal wires stretched between a tree and the house. Generator backup is used if there’s a power outage. He also keeps a mobile 12 volt transmitter that he can use in his truck to chat while he’s driving.

At one time, working knowledge of Morse code was a requirement to get an FCC ham license, but that was dropped, so more people are getting into it, he said.

When he’s not on the radio, Kyvig enjoys making furniture and fixing TVs. He retired from a career in computer operations about five years ago.

Source – http://www.presspubs.com/citizen/news/article_c147ab30-7c25-11e6-9028-679823bb75af.html

What Is A Radio Earpiece

A two way radio is a type of communication that can both receive and transmit information. The radio enables the operators to have conversations with other similar radios operating under the same (channel) frequency. Two way radios are available in stationary base, hand-held portable and mobile configurations. Often, hand-held radios are called handie-talkies, or just walkie-talkies.

Two way radio systems normally operate in a half-duplex mode, in which the operator can listen, or he can talk, though not at the same time. A “Press To transmit” or “push-to-talk” PTT button initiates the transmitter when released, hence activating the receiver. A cellular telephone or mobile phone is an example of a two way radio that both receives and transmits at the same time (full-duplex mode).

Full-duplex is usually achieved through frequency-sharing methods or by using two different frequencies to simultaneously carry the 2 directions of the conversation. Dynamic solid state filters and use of two antennas are some of the methods used for mitigating the self-interference caused by simultaneous same frequency reception and transmission.

Types of two way radio earpiece

Radio earpieces come in a variety of types. They include: D ring, acoustic tube and ear hook. The acoustic tube type features a wireless transceiver operating in a radio-frequency band that receives audio signals. It has an acoustic chamber and an acoustic transducer, which is coupled electrically to the transceiver, and operates to activate acoustic signals.

Connectors

As far as covertness is concerned, communication must definitely be very discreet, whether it’s a just a private group or a security personnel of designated people. Two-way radios are used for conversations between compatible devices in a given location. Nonetheless, it would be much less comfortable if somebody talks through the radio and the entire communication is disrupted.

That’s why there are different types of two way radios connectors in the world, and they include Motorola, Hytera, Icom, and Kenwood, among others. Motorola is the leading connector of two way radio communications controlling about 45% of the market. It would be super stylish and discreet if you had a Motorola radio-earpiece to accompany your radio.

Hytera is another one of the best connectors you can find on the market. Its products are easily available on leading websites with all the necessary accessories. There are plenty of different two way radio earpieces designed by Hytera but most of them come with few accessories less or more. There is not much difference on how they are built or in their quality.

One important thing to have in mind is that there are three basic types of two way radio earpiece kits; the 1-wire, 2-wire and 3-wire. A 1-wire kit and 2-wire kit features a single combined microphone and “push to talk button” which clips to your collar. A wire with an earpiece then extends from this button, but from the connector on the 2-wire.

A 3-wire kit has a wire with a combined “push to talk” button and microphone that can be run down cuff or collar. There is another wire with an earpiece clip on it. Other kits have a second push to talk button that clips to your pocket or belt near the radio.

Ericsson first to deliver 5G NR radio

We are seeing a new era in communications at the moment, the move from tetra and RF to the mobile network. The uk’s emergency services will be moved over to EE’s ESN system slowly until 2020 using Motorola kit designed particularly for the technology. The natural evolution is 5G, which we won’t see for many years, but Ericsson have taken the baton and are running with it.

  • World’s first commercial 5G New Radio (NR) radio for massive MIMO and Multi-user MIMO coming in 2017
  • New additions to Ericsson Radio System address key requirements of 5G, in today’s networks
  • Pioneering Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution facilitates complete rollout from configuration to verification in a single visit

Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) is commercializing the world’s first 5G NR radio for massive MIMO, with the first deployments coming in 2017. Together with the Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins announced in June and Ericsson’s already commercially available Radio System Baseband 5216, which currently powers Ericsson’s award-winning Radio Test Bed, Ericsson is first to deliver all components of a 5G access network.

Tom Keathley, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture and Design, AT&T, says: “As we accelerate toward 5G, it’s beneficial to have a flexible radio platform that can be deployed not only for LTE, but also versions of future 5G NR standards.”

AIR 6468 combines advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports to enable 5G technologies of beamforming, Massive MIMO and — building on that — Multi-user MIMO, initialized as MU-MIMO. These capabilities improve user experience while enhancing the capacity and coverage of the network and reducing interference. The new radio provides LTE support as well, so it is applicable in today’s networks.

Huang Yuhong, Deputy Head, China Mobile Research Institute (CMRI), says: “Massive-MIMO, also known as 3D MIMO, is an important milestone in China Mobile’s technology roadmap from 4G to 5G. We are very happy that Ericsson’s new radio product is coming to market soon to meet our needs and enable us to integrate 5G technologies into our existing networks.”

A host of new additions to the Ericsson Radio System are also coming that address key 5G requirements, in today’s networks.

Daniel Staub, Head of Joint Mobile Group, Swisscom, says: “On the road to 5G, we will continue to invest in LTE advancements that will become part of our 5G networks. For us, it is key that Ericsson has chosen to focus on advances that will support us in this evolution. These enhancements will further improve the customer experience.”

Additional new Ericsson Radio System gear addresses 5G concepts

  • Three new radios support Gigabit speeds for LTE and provide further flexibility in design: Radio 4407 and Radio 4412 enable 4×4 MIMO in one radio unit for FDD and TDD mode respectively, and Radio 8808 for advanced TDD beamforming applications
  • Addressing both the need for unlicensed spectrum options and the growing emphasis on small cells is the Radio 2205, a micro solution on unlicensed spectrum that is fully integrated in Ericsson Radio System, using the same baseband and network management
  • Two new baseband units support the growing need for densification: the outdoor micro Baseband 6502 and macro Baseband 6303 with Ericsson Rail System mounting for flexible site builds
  • Addressing interference issues in dense builds, Baseband P614 enables new band activation on challenging sites by mitigating Passive Inter Modulation, referred to as PIM mitigation, from static and dynamic sources both inside and outside the antenna system
  • Spectrum optimization is a growing need and Uplink Spectrum Analyzer is an Ericsson-unique software solution to remotely identify external interference without the need for costly measurement equipment and site visits
  • Exclusive to Ericsson is instant power sharing, used in the wideband Radio 2242. This capability allows power to be instantly shared between carriers, standards and bands, optimizing the use of radio resources
  • Cloud RAN will be an important 5G network architecture and Baseband C608 provides high-performance switching in Elastic RAN deployments

Peter Jarich, Vice President, Consumer and Infrastructure Services, Current Analysis, says: “Mobile operators, today, are clearly focused on the race to 5G commercialization, while also continuing to invest in their existing LTE networks. With a new 5G radio and LTE offerings which echo key 5G concepts – small cells, licensed-unlicensed band combinations, Cloud RAN, network densification, spectrum optimization – Ericsson’s new portfolio additions and Ericsson Radio System innovations provide a compelling way forward.”

To support new network builds, Ericsson has created the industry’s first Industrialized Network Rollout Services solution. The Network Deployment Delivery Platform coupled with Ericsson’s pioneering process facilitates the complete configuration, installation, integration, shakedown and handover of a fully verified site, ready in a single site visit.

Arun Bansal, Head of Business Unit Network Products, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson has driven innovation in every generation of mobile technology and now we are set to over-deliver on an aggressive promise. We are introducing the new hardware that 5G Plug-Ins, announced in June, will run on, so that the first operators can start to deploy 5G infrastructure.  And, we are also launching innovations that improve both the performance and efficiency of today’s networks using concepts that will evolve into 5G.”

We found this news story on the Communication news website

DJs Shouldn’t Have to Live With Constant Ringing in Their Ears

When you think about DJs you don’t worry about their hearing, but this is a real issue in the music world, they seem to be slow in picking up this issue, probably because the industry can be full of bedroom DJs, that don’t consider hearing protection. As the article below says, it interferes with the mixing. This article was originally published on THUMP Canada. 

I’m waiting to get my hearing tested and I’m scared. Most of my work as a music journalist, along with my social life, has revolved around loud music for more than two decades. While I often wear cheap foam earplugs, I haven’t been as consistent as I should have been, and I’m particularly worried about is the damage I’ve done while DJing.

I was never a famous touring DJ, but spent many years playing long shifts on a weekly basis at Toronto bars, sprinkled with occasional club and warehouse party gigs on larger sound systems. I’ve never worn any hearing protection in the booth, as I found earplugs interfered too much with mixing. Gradually I’ve noticed that I’ve been turning up the monitors over the course of a long night, and the ringing in my ears was taking longer and longer to fade away after each gig. A few years ago, I started to realize I was having trouble keeping up with conversations in situations where there was a lot of background noise.

Then one day that familiar ringing never stopped.

Even though hearing loss caused by loud music is a well-known reality, most working artists view it as an issue they’ll deal with when they’re retired, not aware of the fact that it can often impact artists at the height of their careers.

“I would go home after a gig and my ears would be ringing really badly, and then one day I noticed that they never stopped ringing anymore,” says Toronto house DJ and producer Sydney Blu, who’s been playing regularly since 2000. “Not long after that, I noticed that whenever I’m in a nightclub and someone talks to me in my right ear, I have to stop them and put my left ear to their mouth.”

She eventually got herself fitted for custom musician earplugs, but found she could never get used to DJing while wearing them. Instead, Blu just tries to keep her monitors as quiet as possible, and turns them down completely in-between mixes. “Most of the older DJs that I know all have tinnitus. I wish I had thought about it earlier, and realized how bad it could get.”

There is no way to reverse tinnitus currently, and the treatment options for hearing loss are still in their infancy. For busy DJs who are constantly touring and playing festivals around the world, many don’t notice the ringing in their ears getting worse until it’s too late.

“I think it’s rife in the DJ field,” says NYC house music veteran Roger Sanchez. “A lot of people have tinnitus and they haven’t even identified it. They’re just so accustomed to their ears ringing, and they think it’s just because of their gig the night before. But if you’re playing three or four times a week, your exposure is almost constant. Then when they step back, they realize they have tinnitus.”

Sanchez has been performing for 36 years, and started to experience permanent ringing towards the end of the 90s. Like Blu, he got himself fitted for custom earplugs, and feels they’ve saved him from further damage. However, he admits there was a learning curve when it came to mixing while wearing hearing protection.

“In the beginning, I felt like I couldn’t hear things clearly. It was like someone had put their hands over my ears. It took me a while to acclimate, but what I started noticing was that I could turn my monitors up, but it didn’t sound piercing any more. I also had them put bass bins in a lot of booths, which helped compensate.”

Sanchez says that it’s become much more common in recent years for big name DJs to wear custom earplugs while performing. He finally got tested properly in 2010, and found there was a significant dip in upper range of his hearing around the 800hz range, but was relieved that the loss wasn’t worse. The persistent ringing in his ears is still there though.

“Right now I hear the ringing, but I’ve just become accustomed to it. I don’t notice it when I’m walking on the street, or if I’m not paying attention to it, but the second I quiet everything down, the ringing starts. It’s not too loud, thank god. I think using the filters prevented it from getting to that level. I know some people who have it very loud.”

Custom musician earplugs can cost more than $200, but they’re one of the few options for DJs who need to be able to accurately hear the effect of their EQ tweaks and filtering. The cheap disposable earplugs you can buy at the drugstore will protect your ears the same amount, but change the sound so much that few performers use them.

“A cheap foam earplug might bring the sound down by 25db at one frequency, and 10db at another,” explains Adam Rhodes, the US director of hearing protection company ACS Custom. “They muffle the sound, because it’s not a true response. You can’t hear anything, it takes away the enjoyment of the experience, so you just end up taking them out. When you’ve got the right filter though, you’re not sacrificing the quality at all: you’re just turning it down.”

ACS works with many of the biggest names in electronic music, from Tiesto to Zedd to Deadmau5. Rhodes says that there’s much more awareness of the issue now, although too often artists come to them after they’ve already done permanent damage. “Pretty much every week we hear someone say they wish they’d heard about this ten years ago. We hear that often,” he says. “I think it’s all about education. We’re at a festival every weekend in the summers, trying to make it as accessible to them as possible.”

Many touring musicians have switched to in-ear monitors in recent years, which block out external sounds, while amplifying what they need to hear. In the electronic music world however, they are far less common, as they require DJs to completely rethink their approach to mixing.

“In-ear monitors haven’t always worked for DJs,” admits Rhodes. “They like to wear the cans over their ears, so they can take them off, and do a mix with one ear covered. There are some DJs who use them though, like Deadmau5. We have one model now that have ambient microphones built in, so that they can still hear the mix. That’s kind of the next level, but it’s still hard to persuade DJs to use them. They’re so used to wearing headphones and it’s almost part of their outfit when they’re performing.”

One artist who has transitioned to in-ear monitors is Dutch DJ and producer Laidback Luke. He started wearing custom earplugs in the early 2000s, after becoming concerned about tinnitus and a growing lack of sensitivity to loud volume levels. Around 2008, he decided to give in-ear monitors a try and has used them ever since.

“I just wasn’t getting the definition I was looking for in DJ monitors. We tried the in-ear monitoring, and I was so happy with the clarity. Even in big halls with lots of reverb, my monitoring would always stay the same,” he says. “It was a revelation to me. I could keep the volume low, and still hear every little detail in the song. I couldn’t hear the crowd anymore, but that just made me work harder to get applause.” It wasn’t until three years ago that he finally got up the courage to get his hearing tested.

Thankfully, it turns out that his early adoption of ear protection had a huge impact, and the results were completely normal. Even the constant ringing and beeping that panicked him early in his career has subsided.

My own ringing isn’t nearly as bad as it was a year ago, but it sure seems loud in the complete silence of the soundproof booth in the downtown Toronto clinic where my hearing is being assessed. I struggle to hear the tones, but feel optimistic that I’m able to notice some of the very high-pitched signals they’re feeding me. However, I’m also noticing that there are long pauses during where I probably should be hearing something.

“Do you work with heavy machinery?” the doctor asks me as he looks at my results, which makes my heart skip a beat. When I explain that I’m around loud music constantly, he tells me that explains what the chart is telling him, and why the highest frequency range of my hearing is still decent.

“It’s not actually too bad. Your left ear has a dip at 1K, but it’s still within the normal range. Your right ear has a much larger dip though, at 4K. You should really get yourself a pair of custom musician earplugs.”

I leave his office feeling relief that my hearing isn’t worse, but embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to take it seriously. Thankfully, it’s not too late for me to stop things from getting worse.

Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.

Intel Made A VR Headset And It’s Totally Cord-Free

Intel just announced its own virtual reality headset called Project Alloy, a VR competitor to the Oculus Rift,HTC Vive and the forthcoming PlayStation VR headsets. But what separates the Alloy from the pack is that it’s completely wireless (the wire above is for capturing video for the demo) and it should give you complete spatial awareness without all the dongles the Rift and Vive currently require.

It does this using two of Intel’s RealSense cameras to continuously map your environment. It can even map your hands.

Intel calls the idea “Merged Reality”, essentially combining inputs from cameras around your environment into a virtual world. And Intel was able to pack everything — the processor, sensors and controllers — into one cord-free headset.

During Intel’s demo, however, the RealSense camera didn’t seem quite as fluid as you’d hope, especially if it’s your primary means of reacting to the digital world around you. Intel says that its hardware will be open source in the second half of 2017 (ugh), so the headset won’t be available anytime soon. Intel is also working with Microsoft so Alloy can run Windows Holographic, the software which powers Hololens, according to Microsoft’s Terry Myerson. Microsoft says that Windows Holographic will also be released in an update for all Windows 10 PCs next year.

Source – http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2016/08/intel-made-a-vr-headset-and-its-totally-cord-free/

Exactly What Precisely Is The Earpiece Performers Use On Stage

Every time a singer gets on stage, he or she wants to put on his/her best performance ever. This is why he/she will try to avoid any distraction that might otherwise affect his or her performance in a negative way. They will ensure that their concentration is really high and that they can hear themselves sing during that moment. One of the distractions that is usually in almost every concert is noise. The noise can be coming from the speakers, the echoes and even form the audience itself.

The music and the song that is normally heard when a singer is performing is referred to as house mix while the song that the singer hears from the speakers is referred to as monitor mix. Usually, a singer stands at the back of the main speakers that are normally placed in front of the audience. Most of the time especially on a big stage, the song that reaches the audience is reflected back to the stage (but not immediately). Such background music will prevent the singer from hearing his or her voice.

Stage monitors are small speakers that are directly aimed at the singer for him or her to hear himself or herself sing. Stage monitors were previously used in concerts and they are still being used on some small venues where cover bands do gigs e.g. in some private parties, bars etc. In the current concert venues, stage monitors do not work very well. This is because singers and musicians move a lot on stage when they are performing. Although the stage monitors enable the singer to hear the music on the stage, they are not as clear as personal monitors (referred to as earpieces, very different to Radio Earpieces).

Earpieces give the singer a detailed information regarding his or her performance. They make him/her hear both the song and the orchestra. They enable the singer to constantly hear his/her song regardless of his or her physical movement on the stage. This is unlike the stage monitors that usually provide the band’s and the singer’s voice based on their distance from the speaker. With stage monitors, the sounds usually vary especially if the singer is moving all over the stage.

When a singer has the earpieces on, he gets to choose what he wants to hear. For instance if he wants to hear himself sing or even hear the lyrics, he can. The earpieces help in drowning out the background sounds like the noises made by the crowd or even those from the band. In fact on average, the earpieces can help the singer reduce the background noise by up to 30 decibels. This can extremely help the singer during the performance.

Usually, the earpieces are tailor- made to perfectly fit the singer. They also come in different styles and colors and therefore the singer can pick the one that suits his/her outfit on the stage.

The most important benefit of having the earpieces on is that, they help the singer in eliminating or reducing the echoes. In an auditorium specifically built for concerts, sounds usually radiate through the entire building when the singer is performing. The audience really enjoy the music that echoes back to the stage however, the singer can easily get confused with such echoes. Note that, by the time the echo reaches the stage, it will be one or two seconds off from what the singer is singing at that moment.

Earpieces also help in blocking the sounds that are coming from the band. The instruments are extremely loud especially those that use electric amplifiers. This noise can make it really hard for the singer to hear himself or herself sing.

The earpieces give the singer the sound feedback and therefore he/she is able to hear everything that is in the song. This makes it easier for him/her to keep on with his or her performance.

Sometimes, you may notice that some garage bands who work in small areas are not using earpieces. The members of such bands usually monitor one another while performing to ensure that they keep up and stay in tune during the performance. However in large crowds of say a 100000 people (i.e. in huge stadiums), one will definitely need earpieces otherwise he/she may not hear anything and may even end up with off key sounds.

Innovative radio technology keeps New Zealand’s Firefighters safe

We champion the advancement of communications within the emergency services, not only because it is an important part of their working day, but because they still have a long way to go before it is perfect. This news story comes from New Zealand and focuses on the fire service and is supplied by Motorola themselves.

Firefighters serving with New Zealand Fire Service will benefit from improved safety and communication while working in fire grounds through an innovative two-way radio solution.

The new solution from Motorola Solutions and Spark will enable the service’s 10,000 career and volunteer firefighters to stay connected to their colleagues in the field via reliable and robust voice communication.

Having attended around 73,000 incidents in the past year alone, New Zealand Fire Service needs the best tools for the job. The organisation will receive more than 4,500 new radios designed for use in the most severe fire ground environments.

A major feature of the solution is a cornerstone Motorola Solutions innovation, a remote speaker microphone that will be fully integrated within firefighters’ breathing apparatus. This will be combined with the radio’s convenient push-to-talk button, which enables firefighters to communicate easily and safely in the harshest conditions.

Paul Baxter, Chief Executive & National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service, said,

“Communication is critical to safety on the incident ground, and much of that communication comes from the use of incident ground control (IGC) radio. That’s why we were so exacting in our requirements for these new radios.”

“The radios will help us to resolve radio interface issues with firefighters’ breathing apparatus while also delivering improved noise cancellation and battery life.”

By using a combination of single and multiband radios operating across both VHF and UHF bands, the solution aligns with the fire service’s vision of leading integrated fire and emergency services for a safer New Zealand.

“This radio solution enables us to move away from using a mix of models and frequencies and toward a nationally consistent standard that will make it easier to work with our emergency service partners,” Baxter said.

Murray Mitchell, Director ICT for the New Zealand Fire Service, said, “We wanted a solution that is safe, easy to use and doesn’t distract firefighters from their work during critical incidents.The design features incorporated in these new radios will help our firefighters work more safely and efficiently.”

Spark will provide in-country support including service management and a customer support desk.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles said: “Radios are life-saving tools for our emergency services, and great team communication can be the difference between a managed incident and a disaster. We are very proud to play a part in improving the on-ground experience for our Kiwi Fire Service heroes.”

Motorola Solutions Managing Director for New Zealand and Australia Steve Crutchfield said the solution drew on his company’s experience in providing tailored, mission-critical communications for public safety agencies all over the world.

“Firefighters depend on reliable and robust voice communications in emergency situations so they can concentrate on the job of protecting our communities and potentially saving lives,” Crutchfield said.

The radios are part of a five-year contract, giving New Zealand Fire Service operational and cost certainty throughout the life of the contract.

The contract also provides access provisions for related government agencies wanting to take advantage of the new radio technology.

A giant solar storm nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1967

We all know how important radio communications are and at a time before the internet and even digital communications, governments relied on RF communications that were susceptible to the suns solar storms, if you add that to the cold war nuclear tensions then we could all be living in holes now.

Cold War history is rife with close calls that nearly led to nuclear holocaust.

In September 1983, for example, sunlight reflecting off a patch of clouds fooled a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting the launch of five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that never were. A wary colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch.

Two months later, US forces staged “Able Archer 83” — a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

Now scientists have one more hair-raising event to add to the books: The “Great Storm” of May 1967.

“The storm made its initial mark with a colossal solar radio burst causing radio interference … and near-simultaneous disruptions of dayside radio communication,” a group of atmospheric scientists and military weather service personnel wrote in a new study, published August 9 in the journalSpace Weather.

Hours later, high frequency communications dropped out near US military installations in and near the Arctic — one of the closest places to station nuclear weapons and launch them at a Cold War-era Soviet Union.

“Such an intense, never-before-observed solar radio burst was interpreted as jamming,” the study authors wrote. “Cold War military commanders viewed full scale jamming of surveillance sensors as a potential act of war.”

A ‘Great Storm’

Earth’s magnetic field protects life on the planet by corralling the sun’s high-energy particles toward the planet’s polar regions.

If the sun happens to launch a cloud of solar particles directly toward Earth during a violent outburst, called a coronal mass ejection, it can trigger powerful geomagnetic storms.

This not only leads to beautiful auroras, but can also scramble wireless communications and disrupt radar systems.

While The Washington Post wrote up a story about the storm as “City Gets Rare Look at Northern Lights,” top US military commanders sounded the alarms in secret.

The Air Weather Service (AWS) — a relatively new branch of the Air Force — had warned military leadership about the possibility of a solar storm, but US commanders believed the Soviet forces were jamming NORAD systems designed to detect threatening planes and missiles.

As the Strategic Air Command warmed up the engines of bombers and taxied toward the runway, the decision to go airborne may have been kicked all the way up to the “highest levels of government,” possibly involving President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Just in time, military space weather forecasters conveyed information about the solar storm’s potential to disrupt radar and radio communications,” according to a press release from the American Geophysical Union. “The planes remained on the ground and the U.S. avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the Soviet Union.”

And this all happened at the peak of nuclear armament — when a record 31,255 nuclear weapons were deployed around the world. (Today there are roughly 7,200 nuclear armaments at hand.)

“Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater,” study leader and UCAR atmospheric scientist Delores Knipp said in the release.

After the near miss, the researchers say the military learned to listen to its space weather forecasters, improve its abilities to see another looming “Great Storm,” and avert the first and perhaps final global nuclear exchange.

 

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