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Switching on


Wireless audio for hearing aids H


earing aid company GN ReSound has developed a


model that streams audio direct from TVs, computers and home cinema systems. Using 2·4 GHz wireless


technology from the Norwegian company Nordic Semiconductor, the ReSound Alera hearing aid enables users to wirelessly stream audio from consumer electronics devices direct to their hearing aid over a up to 20 metres. When the user wishes to watch


TV they simply push a button on the back of their hearing aid or use a remote control to select the device’s designated channel to im- mediately stream wireless audio. “It was extremely challenging to


achieve this ease of end-user func- tionality, along with medical-grade [99·99%] fi eld reliability and real-time audio performance in a hearing aid as small as an adult fi ngernail, weighing as much as a paper clip”, admitted T omas Ols- gaard, vice president of hardware


The ReSound Alera: users can wirelessly stream audio from common consumer electronics devices direct to their hearing aid


platforms at GN ReSound. T e ReSound Alera range is


built around a miniature product that has to embed an even smaller electronic module housing an an- tenna without ground-plane (due to lack of space) and a Bluetooth radio,, plus an external microcon- troller to perform the advanced audio signal processing required in a hearing aid.


“All of this functionality


needed to run for several days from a replaceable zinc air battery that is a fuel coin cell”, Mr Olsgaard continued. “T is meant that the proprietary radio needed the lowest possible power consumption to enable the product to average 1·5mA in operation and peak at 4mA when streaming.”


Going wireless on the shop fl oor R


etailer Mothercare is deploying a lightweight


headset communication system in some of its UK stores. Previously it used desk


phones and loudspeaker announcements for staff communication, but this did not guarantee contact, and loud announcements were annoying to customers and staff. The retailer will use the Quail


Digital system, which allows discreet, instant, two-way communication. It has been installed at its Peterborough, Warrington, Stoke, Bristol and Stratford stores, with more to follow. The system comprises cash


desk call points and customer call buttons in key areas of the store, enabling customers to request help when they wish. At some stores, the system is also


8 Handsfree: a mothercare shop assistant wearing the new headset


being used in car parks, for staff working in car-seat fi tting bays. “Undoubtedly it makes


the whole in-store customer service experience much more professional and productive”, noted Ben Voce, store manager at the Mothercare shop in Westfi elds, Stratford (London). “It increases the amount of time


our assistants can spend with customers.” Besides improving effi ciency


and customer service, the system is proving a theft deterrent. “We were very pleased when the new system helped prevent a £1200 theft from one of our stores”, said Mark Birnie, store process manager for Mothercare.


“Just one year after the


system’s implementation, a market research poll in 2010 indicated 76·9 per cent user satisfaction for public transport, and Nottingham was named as England’s least car-dependent city”, commented David Astill, commercial manager of NCT. “A large benefi t for the


public is the vast amount of real-time passenger information (RTPI) available on routes and on buses”, he added. “RTPI is provided at more than 800 bus-stops, via web and mobile information for cellphones, and over ‘next stop’ signage aboard buses.” With the AVL data, NCT


control room staff can receive anticipate potential delays, allowing them to alter services as required. At the same time, the city-wide dedicated radio voice channel allows drivers to communicate directly with control room staff at any time.


LAND mobile March 2012


AVL upgrade on the buses


N


ottingham City Transport (NCT) has launched a new


voice and data communications system, which is bringing a number of benefi ts to passengers and operations. Based on a TaitNet MPT


1327 trunked radio network, the system includes automatic vehicle location (AVL), an on- board integrated information system and voice and data communication to keep the 340 buses in close contact with their control room.


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