EF Johnson Technologies now offers the Discover GPS microphone, a GPS-enabled microphone and LCD device marketed to first-responders working in remote terrains. EFJ is selling the technology and working to develop new microphone models under a contractual deal with Infinity Gear, the original manufacturer, said Kevin Nolan, EFJ’s spokesperson.

The device consists of two hardware pieces: a microphone with an embedded GPS device and a 120 x 160 monochrome screen with backlit LCD display. The microphone tracks up to 16 satellites to keep tabs on personnel in the field, and auto-transmits the data to a centralized location. In addition, the information is stored in an on-board memory chip and can be downloaded via a USB cable to a PC for data storage and analysis, said Rick Phung, an EFJ product manager.

The microphone plugs into almost any two-way radio, Phung said, and its software suite supports mapping applications. For example, one application lets users pinpoint their location in relation to a pre-programmed radio group in real-time. It also records and displays users’ locations, temperature, altitude and direction of travel and speed—which then can be calculated into an estimated time of arrival. Results are viewed on the LCD display.

“As well, the device gives [users] accurate information and location relative to other field team members,” he said. The device’s software suite also supports short text messages when mobile voice communications are not convenient or available. For instance, team-member coordinates can be transmitted via text message to first-responder talk groups during field operations, Phung said As far as security goes, the microphone is capable of encrypted transmissions--dependent on the user’s radio configuration, Phung said. It’s also compatible with various GIS software packages that let users view and track the position of all group members in real time, overlaid on a map.

The device operates on analog or digital channels and is P25 compatible. Its enclosure is IP-54 rated for resistance to dust and water. The analog model costs $500 and the digital model costs $750, Phung said.