Sprint Nextel recently announced the availability of Direct Send Picture service, which lets subscribers send and review a picture while on a Nextel walkie-talkie call without having to access a separate data service.

With the new service, a subscriber on a walkie-talkie call can send a picture to the other Nextel subscriber on the call. The picture appears on the handset of both phones during the call, allowing the callers to view and discuss it. Transmission of the picture typically takes 8 to 12 seconds, said a Sprint Nextel spokeswoman.

The carrier anticipates the feature will be especially popular for subscribers that frequently need to discuss site observations and events in real time.

“While sending pictures between mobile phones has been possible for quite some time, Direct Send Picture is unique in the marketplace because it allows customers to look at and discuss an image at the same time,” said Tony Krueck, Sprint Nextel's vice president of product development and management, in a statement.

“This kind of simple and efficient communication … is of extreme value to our customers, especially those in the construction, insurance, real-estate and public-safety sectors,” he added.

Direct Send Picture is an extension of the Direct Send function Nextel unveiled last year. Direct Send lets subscribers send contact information and data into another subscriber's contact list with the push of a walkie-talkie button.

Only subscribers with a Motorola i870 phone can immediately use the Direct Send Picture function, which will be included on all future Nextel phones. In coming weeks, software upgrades will be available that will let owners of several existing Nextel phone models use Direct Send Picture. Among the upgradable phone models are the Motorola i850, i760, i560, i355 and i275.

Direct Send Picture is exclusive to Nextel phones using the walkie-talkie service formerly known as Direct Connect that operates via the iDEN network, the spokeswoman said. The service is not available on the ReadyLink push-to-talk service offered by Sprint PCS and is not compatible with Nextel's Direct Talk offering, she said.

Motorola unveiled the i870 handset last month. It combines a two-way radio, 1.3 megapixel camera, MP3 player and video recorder. It also features the AgION antimicrobial coating that inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold on the handset's painted surfaces.

The i870 operates on Motorola's WiDEN (wide integrated digital enhanced network), which lets users send and receive data at rates up to four times faster than the iDEN network. In addition, the handset lets users set up talk groups for up to 20 people, while its MOTOtalk functionality lets users outside of the coverage area manually transfer to radio-to-radio mode with a range of up to 6 miles.

In-vehicle wireless mobile office for pickups

Ford Motor Co. introduced to its F-Series pickup truck line a “wireless mobile office” system that consists of a mobile computer manufactured by Stargate Mobile that functions using Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

The mobile computer features a touch-screen and is mounted on the vehicle's transmission tunnel within easy reach of the driver, Ford said. The computer is powered by the truck's battery and connects to optional equipment, including a GPS antenna, printer, digital camera and credit card scanner, and can be removed from the vehicle.
www.ford.com
www.stargatemobile.com

High-power wideband antenna

Fractal Antenna Systems unveiled the UAD discone antenna, which is designed for high-power transmit applications. The antenna offers wideband performance and power handling up to 250 W and operates over a “huge” frequency range while offering “superior” gain, the company said. The 50 ohm antenna also offers VSWR of 2.5:1 or better, is sealed in a radome that measures 7.7 inches in diameter by 5.7 inches tall and can be deployed for vehicle, marine or fixed use. An optional watertight vehicle-mounting kit also is available.
www.fractenna.com

Hazardous environment headset

Peltor Communications added the PowerComPLUS I.S. to its line of two-way radio headsets. The headset is designed for hazardous environments requiring explosion-proof radio transmitters. It is equipped with 22 pre-programmed UHF channels and 38 sub-channel privacy tones. It has a range of about 1.2 miles in open environments, the company said. Other features include a noise-canceling boom microphone and VOX/P2T operation. The headset is available in neckband, hard hat clip-on and headband versions; the headband model offers a noise-reduction rating of 25 dB.
www.peltor.com

Training video promotes safety

Land mobile radio hardware and software vendor Direct Communications International has released a two-hour video that explains how to safely work in non-ionizing radio frequency (RF) environments. Topics covered in the video's 10 chapters include safety basics, FCC and OSHA regulations, health considerations, RF signage and RF site compliance. The video is offered in VHS and DVD formats and comes with a training booklet and written test the viewer can take to complete training certification. The price is $299, but volume discounts are available.
www.dcico.com/rfsafety

Wireless networking gear

Wireless LAN vendor Netgear unveiled the RangeMax line of wireless networking products that uses MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology to deliver data transmissions speeds up to 240 MB/s and effective throughput up to 100 MB/s to support high-definition video and voice-over-IP applications and to eliminate dead spots in office environments.

The line includes a wireless router that offers the following security features: NAT and SPI firewalls, 64- and 128-bit WEP encryption, Wi-Fi protected access pre-shared key (WPA-PSK and WPA2-PSK), denial-of-service attack protection, intrusion detection and prevention, and support for two virtual private network pass-through tunnels. In addition, the router supports existing legacy 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices and improves their performance by up to 50%, the company said.

Netgear also introduced the ADSL Modem Wireless Router, which combines five functions in a single box: ADSL2+ modem, router, 10/100 LAN switch, SPI double firewall and a 108 Mb/s wireless access point.
www.netgear.com

Wireless access point for enterprise applications

The AP-5131 access point from Symbol Technologies is designed specifically for branch offices and other telecommuter sites to provide enterprise-class secure broadband access to corporate intranets. The access point is available with two dual-band radios to support simultaneous broadband data and voice applications and offers rogue access point detection services to ensure network integrity. Though designed to integrate aesthetically with carpeted office environments, the AP-5131 is capable of withstanding harsh industrial and outdoor environments, the company said.
www.symbol.com

Asset-tracking system

In-building wireless system provider InnerWireless has developed an 802.15.4-based RF Location System (RFLS) that will let hospitals and medical facilities efficiently track key assets, including patients, personnel and equipment. The technology uses “master” radios on each floor. The radios communicate with beacon devices in each room that read the tags that are affixed to the tracked asset. Because 802.15.4 — upon which ZigBee technology is based — is a low-power standard, the beacons (about the size of a residential smoke alarm) operate on battery power and require no wiring, the company said. In addition, RFLS tags likely will cost less than $25, and deploying an RFLS beacon will cost much less than installing an 802.11 access point, according to the company.
www.innerwireless.com

*spotlight: VoIP/RoIP systems

Daniels Electronics

A digital universal interface card (UIC) provides a direct digital connection from APCO Project 25-compliant radios to IP-based dispatch consoles. The interface provides the company's customers with access to signals from all of the company's P25 base stations through an Ethernet interface, Daniels said. In addition, the UIC interfaces with RF subsystems and console equipment, letting third parties access signals, controls and functionalities that currently exist on the company's radio modules.
www.danelec.com

Raytheon JPS

The company has reduced the price of its NXU-2 network extension unit to $995 from the original $1500. The promotional price is effective for any orders placed by Dec. 31. The NXU-2 uses radio-over-IP technology to let users send and receive digital audio by connecting communications equipment to a digital network (LAN, WAN or Internet). In addition, the company announced a trade-in program — also valid through the end of 2005 — that gives customers a 30% discount on new CPM-4 and DSP-2 modules once they return their older DSP-1 and CPM-2 modules. The CPM-4 lets users remotely control the company's ACU-1000 interoperability solution using a LAN, WAN or the Internet. It also includes a handset connector that lets users communicate remotely via RoIP and VoIP with other CPM-4 or DSP-2 modules, or with a stand-alone NXU-2. The DSP-2 includes the full functionality of the NXU-2 and also allows for additional audio delay capabilities for trunked radio and satellite applications, the company said.
www.jps.com

IPC

The company's EHI solutions use voice-over-IP technology to let users connect to any individual or group without the delay normally associated with setting up individual calls, according to the company. The solution offers both intercom and broadcast capabilities and accommodates multi-party calls, during which all users can speak and be heard. In addition, the solution lets users communicate via instant text messaging and provides presence capability, which lets users know who is available within the group at any given moment.
www.ipc.com

Avtec/Trident

A jointly developed digital interface connects Trident's NTS solution and Avtec's DSPatch and voice-over-IP-enabled DSPatchNET console communications systems. The interface is based on Trident's PassPort trunked radio protocol and will be targeted to the transportation, military, public safety and energy sectors. It provides customers with access to all user ANI (automatic number identification) data (effectively Caller ID for mobile radios), selective calling features (such as the ability to set up one-to-one radio calling), emergency call-in information (including one-touch priority calling) and the ability to set up talk groups.
www.avtec.com
www.trident.com

Catalyst Communications

The IP|25D gateway software solution supports digital audio to MT-4 base stations manufactured by Daniels Electronics. An Ethernet interface lets users select the desired MT-4 — or other attached radio and channel — with which they wish to communicate through a simple mouse or foot pedal click, the company said.

In addition, the IP M-Smart solution uses RoIP technology to remotely control Motorola radios using a Motorola digital control protocol. The interface lets users change channels and talk groups, make private calls, scan and execute other radio controls.

Also, Version 4.42 of Catalyst's RoIP software lets users better control and manage their IP-based dispatch and interoperability systems. New capabilities include: the ability to link up to eight different radio systems regardless of manufacturer or frequency; the ability to transmit pre-recorded WAV files over the air; and the ability to “cross mute” audio from a neighboring remote client, which reduces feedback into the neighboring remote client's microphone during a transmission, the company said.
www.catcomtech.com

Vehicle-specific console

Havis-Shields debuted the C-VS-1600-EXPL vehicle console designed for use in the 2006 Ford Explorer. The console is manufactured from laser-cut steel to precisely fit the vehicle's dash trim and floor shifter and can accommodate the mounting of up to 16 inches of communications equipment, the company said. The console is equipped with a radio microphone clip bracket and is pre-drilled for the mounting of the C-TCB-7 telescoping computer bracket. It also offers a flip-up armrest and a dual cup holder that is slotted to accommodate mug handles.
www.havis.com