Presently, lack of interoperability between two-way radios and other wireless devices continues to plague public safety teams.
To resolve the issue, many law enforcement and even some military personnel carry two or more wireless devices, including cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), two-way radios and pagers.
But ideally, of course, they would prefer to have a multipurpose radio able to work with any wireless communications protocol. Or better yet, an intelligent device would determine for itself the most reliable communications channel and take advantage of it – a concept called ‘cognitive radio’.
And that’s just what developers at Forest-VA based Innovative Wireless Technologies (IWT) propose to develop – hardware and software for a low-cost communications platform based on a novel radio-frequency IC chip capable of supporting the full range of communications formats from analog voice to ultrawideband data transmission.
Key hurdles to be crossed include how to handle ultra wideband and analog voice waveforms on the same equipment, developing a powerful but compact radio abstraction language and, of course, keeping costs low (around $25).
To help out with the development effort, the company was recently awarded $1,999,986 from the US Department of Commerce’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP) part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).The ATP award funding will be matched with $1,500,000 by IWT.
The company says that the initial market for radios based on its chip set would be homeland security and first responders, but the company has also garnered support for mass production if the prototype is successful.