Wireless headset more reliable, improves officer safety
FreeLinc has introduced the Free Motion200, a wireless headset for two-way radios that is targeted to public-safety and military personnel. The Wayne County (Mich.) Sheriff’s Office was the first to field-test the technology during the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Detroit’s Comerica Park in July.
Traditionally, officers use shoulder microphones — connected to their radio by a long expandable wire — to communicate. The wire often is uncomfortable and a source of vulnerability.
“Everything relies on wires, which are the problem — they are not only uncomfortable but also dangerous because you can get tangled in them,” Andre Simenaur, Wayne County IT director, said.
FreeLinc President John Liar noted that the headset wire also is the most common point of failure on a speaker microphone headset because the wires are unreliable under many circumstances. They also can be used as a weapon against an officer.
To solve these problems, FreeLinc created the FreeMotion200. Operating on a near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) technology, the headset confines communication signals to a user’s personal space protecting them from eavesdroppers or interference.
FreeLinc opted to use a wireless technology that did not use radio frequency (RF) to achieve communication in order to mitigate interference from other RF sources that operate on the unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical band.
“Because this band is very saturated with RF transmissions, it is very likely that all these transmissions can interfere with each other,” Liar said.
He added that for any RF wireless radio accessory, there is a “serious risk of interrupted communication — a major concern to public-safety professions.”
The technology, which is meant for short distance communication, uses an adapter to emit a 3-foot to 5-foot magnetic field in which the headsets operate. Because of this short range, the headsets offer 20 hours of continuous talk time and about four hours of standby time “because they do not have to sustain a wave out into great distances,” Liar said.
The FreeMotion200 consists of a rotating earpiece with a push-to-talk button on the ear piece. The bulk of the product rests behind the ear coupled with a boom microphone, or a noise-canceling microphone, that extends below the ear to the mouth. The headset communicates with an adapter that attaches to the two-way radio in place of the speaker microphone cable.
Twenty Wayne County Sheriff’s officers were equipped with the headsets and they gave the product a passing grade.
“Any officer will tell you how frustrating it can be to have to fumble with radio controls, handsets and cords when trying to do a job,” Sheriff Warren Evans said in a statement. “The FreeMotion devices we tested allowed our team to communicate totally hands-free. So we worked with increased safety and security — without interruption.”