Remember Walkie Talkies? If you watched Netflix’s 80s sci-horror mash up Stranger Things, you may have felt a pang of nostalgia about the brick sized gadgets the geeky young heroes use to keep in touch as they try to solve the mystery of their best friend’s disappearance.

Unless you work in industry, you may be forgiven for thinking walkie talkies – otherwise known as two way radios – were left behind in the 80s along with cassette player boomboxes and banana seat bikes.

However, in business and industry, two way radio use is bigger than ever – the global market is expected to double to $15bn in the five years to 2020 – and that is mostly down to the arrival of digital technology.

While old fashioned analogue handheld radios were basically one trick ponies for transmitting and receiving voice wirelessly, today’s digital models are pretty serious gadgets packed full of impressive features.

Here are the top 5 things a digital two way radio can do no one would have dreamed possible with an 80s walkie talkie.

Voice Activiation

One of the things that has always made two way radio popular is ease of use. Simple Push-to-Talk (PTT) operation, where all you have to do to transmit is push a single button, has been a standard feature for decades. Nowadays, however, many digital models such as the Motorola XT460 and Hytera PD405 go a stage further and offer a so-called VOX, or voice activated function. The idea is to enable hands free use, and to this end many digital handsets now also support Bluetooth for connecting to wireless headphones etc.

Motion Sensor Alerts

Many modern digital two way radios are designed for use in industries such as construction, processing & manufacturing, shipping, mining and security where working in hazardous environments is common. They therefore feature a whole range of safety alarm options intended to provide additional means of monitoring workers and a little extra peace of mind. One of the more innovative, which appears as standard on models like the Motorola DP4400, is called Man Down. This is an automated alarm system which detects unusual movements, such as those caused by a fall, to trigger an alert received by every user in the network.

Location Tracking

Another critical safety feature found on some digital two way radios is GPS location tracking. GPS means that if an incident occurs and an alarm is raised, not only will other radio users be alerted, they will be able to pinpoint the exact location of the handset the alarm originated from. GPS tends to be a feature of top spec digital models such as the Motorola DP4800 and Hytera PD985G.

Text Messaging & Internet

Ok, so back in the 80s people didn’t really know about text messaging as they didn’t have mobile phones to spend hours twiddling their thumbs over. The same goes for the internet. But the point is, digitalisation has enabled two way radio to become much more than a glorified wireless telephone. While you wouldn’t exactly use one to browse Facebook, support for IP data protocols means two way radio networks can be controlled from a PC. This has greatly improved the efficiency, scale and scope of dispatching, issuing and coordinating work tickets, call recording and data collection, and, of course, sending a text message when a call just won’t suffice.

Crystal Clear Audio

Analogue two ways radios were great for what they did, providing a wireless means of communication when there were no other choices. But if you wanted a clear signal and needed your voice to be heard, conditions had to be right. This included background noise. Ever seen a security guard in the middle of a rock concert or bouncing football stadium on their walkie talkie, and wondered how they are being heard? The answer is clever technology. Models like the Motorola DP4000 range feature so called Intelligent Audio, which is a combination of several things – while noise suppression reduces the ‘hum’ from the background, mic sensitivity and speaker gain controls are automatically adjusted to make sure everything can always be heard.

Interested in finding out more?

Brentwood Radios has more than 40 years experience supplying two way radio. It has worked with organisations of every type, from every sector, from one man operations to multinational corporations. We design two way radio solutions for everything from music festivals to construction projects, sports stadia to red carpet events, processing plants to surveillance operations. To find out more about what we have learnt two way radio can do, visit our website here.

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