Before we set about developing the next generation MTP8000Ex Series our key aim was to make a smarter ATEX radio that better addressed the needs of its users – the workers in hazardous environments. These workers include Fire and Rescue teams who may, for example, have to respond to traffic accidents involving petrol tankers or attend incidents at petrochemical plants. We listened to the challenges and frustrations these workers faced every day and did something about them. All with the aim of increasing their efficiency and improving their safety in hazardous environments whilst at the same time making the radios easier to use than ever before. We achieved these aims by thinking smarter about the design of the radio – and in turn produced a radio that lets users work smarter. Through a series of simple and innovative design features we have made the MTP8000Ex Series much more than just another ATEX radio.
Based on our research we implemented a number of simple design innovations – the most obvious being the T-bar form factor making the radio easier to hold and harder to drop. Similarly the exaggerated control **** makes it easier to select volume and talk group whilst wearing heavy gloves - and in the same way the textured Push-to-Talk button and the tactile keypad make the radio easier to use. Placing the enlarged emergency button at the base of the antenna – another simple idea - also makes it easier to locate without looking at the radio.
We also asked ourselves how we could make it easier for the workers to see key information - such as status alerts, emergency notifications, volume, battery level and talk group - when the radio is worn on the belt or on the chest without needing to unclip it.
The smart but simple solution to this problem was to add a display panel to the top of the radio. The user simply has to glance down to see the information they need rather than take out the radio to look at the front screen.
We also asked ourselves if there was smart way of making sure users always know when they are in radio coverage and whether the coverage is good or not. The innovative solution to this problem was to put an LED Coverage Indicator at the base of the antenna, which clearly shows the user when coverage is poor or marginal.
It acts much like a traffic light with green, orange and red lights showing when coverage is good, marginal or poor – and the levels can be pre-set so you are in total control of your workers’ safety.
Our customer research also showed us that many users mark their radio in some way to distinguish it from others, often using a sticky label or a permanent marker to write a name or number on the radio. This can often compromise the ATEX certification and as a result put the safety of the users at risk.
The solution to this problem was to add a nameplate to the back of the radios. This means users can simply write their name or number on the tab behind the clear Perspex cover and the radios can now be easily identified without compromising safety.
INTUITIVE USER INTERFACE
Another innovative feature is the simple and intuitive user interface which makes use of icons and the familiar menu style navigation. The menus can also be configured to only show those options needed by the workers, again making the radio quicker and easier to navigate.
A major innovation was integrating Bluetooth Wireless technology to the MTP8000Ex Series. This means a range of wireless accessories can be securely and reliably paired with the radio. And, in the future this could include ATEX certified wireless headsets and microphones as well as Push-To-Talk buttons. This will make the radio easier and safer to use and reduces the risk of dangling wires catching on equipment such as ladders or projecting structures such as pipes.
Smarter still the integration of Bluetooth Wireless technology means collaborative devices such as mobile computing devices can securely connected to the radios for data collection or other applications such as work scheduling. This makes frontline workers more effective and more efficient, giving them access to better information when they need it.
For even smarter safety, devices such as body worn gas sensors or heart rate monitors can also be connected to the radio, alerting the user and control automatically of rising gas levels or dangerous changes in the heart rate. In the future Bluetooth could also be used for indoor location with the installation of Bluetooth sensors in buildings allowing you to keep track of your people wherever they go. Integrating Bluetooth in to the MTP8000Ex Series opens up a world of smart solutions where the only limits are the availability of Bluetooth devices and the uses you can think of for them.
SMARTER BY DESIGN
The MTP8000Ex Series really is smarter by design from the T-bar grip to the top display, and from the coverage indicator to the integrated Bluetooth wireless technology. These simple and innovative design features make the MTP8000Ex Series safer and easier to use and the workers who use them more effective and efficient.
You can see the MTP8000Ex series in action at this year's PMRExpo.
Mark La Pensee is Head of TETRA Subscribers Product Management
Follow @MotSolsEMEA and #MTP8000EX on Twitter.