Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Now it’s not the usual field that we cover, but it hit our radar. How many times have you seen an enthusiastic presenter or an excited contestant on TV drop their radio mic and crawl around on the floor, trying to pick it up! Well when a costume designer and a sound man get together then things get designed, and why this hasn’t be invented before is beyond us, but it looks like an idea that could take off. Read the full article here.

Sound recordist Simon Bysshe and costumier Laura Smith have combined their knowledge and expertise to create URSA Straps, a unique range of low profile body worn straps designed to conceal radio microphone transmitters.

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Officially launched this month and now available in the UK and Europe, URSA Straps are made from a specially developed bonded fabric that is ultra-slim and provides excellent stretch, comfort and breathability. Each strap incorporates a pouch to keep the transmitter locked in place and a cable pocket for managing excess microphone cable. URSA Straps are available in black, beige and brown skin tone colours and can be worn around the ankle, thigh or waist.

Bysshe and Smith developed URSA Straps after listening to numerous artists express discomfort while wearing radio mic straps. Traditional thick neoprene or elastic straps can irritate the skin, become soaked in sweat and are often impossible to disguise under figure hugging costumes.

“It was obvious that a better way of discreetly securing transmitters was required,” Simon Bysshe explains. “As a boom operator I had worked with many artists who disliked wearing transmitter packs because their associated straps could restrict movement and become uncomfortable. In some cases they had simply refused to wear them.”

Laura Smith’s knowledge of costume making proved invaluable as she was able to construct prototypes and identify the exact fabrics required to suit the needs of costume, artists and sound departments.

“After many months of research we decided to create our own unique hybrid fabric by fusing two stretch fabrics together,” Bysshe explains. “This resulting fabric is just 1mm thick and much lighter and softer than any other fabric of its kind. Crucially we incorporated a hook Velcro compatible outer surface that allows the straps to be securely attached to themselves at any point.”

Introducing Ursa Straps – the Perfect Addition to the Radio Microphone Box

Bysshe tested the new straps while working on the second series of Sky Atlantic’s The Tunnel. Lead actress Clémence Poésy was an immediate convert and provided valuable feedback to help develop the product. Bysshe has subsequently used URSA Straps on the third series of Peaky Blinders. The USRA Thigh straps were particularly popular with the cast members who found them secure, light and comfortable. The fact they can be worn around the thigh as opposed to the waist made them invaluable for use with the period costumes.

“With URSA Straps we have created such a comfortable low-profile solution that artists often forget that they are wearing them. Now we have to make sure that actors remember to take them off before they leave!” Bysshe adds. “The straps can be washed and re-used every day for many months. Our Thigh straps are particularly popular as they are designed to not slip down the leg. We achieved this by bonding on a strips of Polyurethane gripper to the inside of the straps.”

Outside film and television, URSA Straps are also proving popular with dancers who need to receive audio cues during a live performance. Using waist or thigh straps the sound team can easily conceal a receiver pack on their bodies without restricting movement or compromising the look of their costumes. URSA Straps have also developed a Double-Pack strap allowing artists to wear two packs on one strap.

Oscar-winning production sound mixer Simon Hayes was an early adopter of URSA Straps and describes them as a total game changer for his team.

“URSA Straps allow us to rig radio mics on costumes previously thought to be unmicable. Tight dresses, sportswear, stunt harnesses – they can all be easily miked using low profile URSA Straps. These straps are so popular with the actresses I work with that many have asked to keep theirs at the end of the production.”

URSA Straps are suitable for a variety of wireless transmitters including Lectrosonics, Zaxcom, Wisycom MTP40 and Sennheiser 5212. Two different pouch sizes are available to ensure optimum fit. Three different waist sizes are available: small, medium and large.

“Initially Laura and I were making the straps by hand in our garage,” Bysshe says. “When we realised their potential we scaled up production by taking on two experienced manufacturing firms in Leicester. Our launch has been a huge success with orders coming in from all around the world! We are now on our third large production run and expanding our market into Theatre, Concerts and Outside Broadcasts.”

Motorola Solutions Envisions Virtual Reality Transforming Public Safety

Virtual reality and augmented reality will creep into our lives slowly in the next 10 years, it has so many applications from gaming to business. Motorola have been leading the radio industry for many years and are taking the initiative with this technology, While this will take away the need for CCTV, radios, radio earpieces and headsets, it will add a more immersive, structured way of running events and festivals.

Motorola Solutions  is exploring a future where virtual reality will immerse a public safety command center supervisor in an incident scene. By using a combination of virtual reality and eye-interaction technologies to navigate through video and data feeds from multiple sources, incident responses can be quickly coordinated and information shared widely to help guide officers and protect people at the scene.

Motorola Solutions will show live demonstrations of the virtual command center on Aug. 15-16 at the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) 2016, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. (booth #1337).

The virtual command center proof of concept uses eye-interaction technology from startup company Eyefluence, a Motorola Solutions Venture Capital investment, to envision the future of public safety.

A look at today’s smart public safety solutions

Today’s public safety command centers can integrate the Project 25 (P25) standards-based, interoperable ASTRO® 25 land-mobile radio (LMR) network for mission-critical communications with the power of LTE broadband and the latest in smart public safety solutions to turn data into intelligence.

Since 2009, Lake County, Fla. has been using Motorola Solutions’ ASTRO 25 LMR network as the core network for emergency interoperable communications for several counties across Florida. On Aug. 17, Greg Holcomb, Lake County public safety communications technology manager/E911, will join Motorola Solutions in a managed services panel discussion at APCO entitled “Systems Down: Best Practices for Eliminating this Status from Your Network Performance Logs” (see all Motorola Solutions presentations at APCO 2016 here).

“The Lake County core network and many connected sites on this P25 mission-critical communication system are managed by Motorola Solutions,” said Holcomb. “With their robust managed services offerings, the company ensures 24×7 availability, reduced risks and maximized performance for our public safety network.”

Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform provides real-time intelligence throughout all phases of police work – from planning, to operations, to investigations. CommandCentral Aware aggregates video from several sources, allowing crime center analysts to view multiple feeds on one screen and share high-definition images of suspects, vehicles, license plate numbers and other critical information to responding officers in real time.

“Law enforcement agencies have access to data from multiple sources including 9-1-1 calls, live video feeds, social media activity, nationwide databases and more,” said Jim Mears, senior vice president, Motorola Solutions North America Sales. “Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral platform captures this information and turns it into real-time intelligence that helps first responders resolve incidents quickly and even prevent them from happening.”

The CommandCentral platform will be showcased at APCO 2016, along with several of the latest mission-critical communication solutions from Motorola Solutions’ Innovation Design Center in Plantation, Fla. This includes the Si500 body worn camera andCommandCentral Vault digital management solutions, which automates and streamlines the processing of video from the point of capture to video management and review, and the LEX L10 LTE handheld device designed for the rigorous demands of real-world, front-line policing.

Introducing new mission-critical solutions at APCO 2016

Motorola Solutions is launching the new APX™ 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, updated ASTRO 25 network features and the IMPRES 2 energy management system.

APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio: With Motorola Solutions’ new APX 8500 P25 all-band mobile radio, first responders can use a single mobile radio to exchange critical voice and data communications – such as text messages and GPS coordinates – with multiple agencies and jurisdictions operating on different radio bands. Radio updates can be made instantly without interrupting voice communications; the radio does not need to be brought to a shop, saving both time and money. When connected to the Motorola Solutions VML750 LTE vehicle modem (now available globally), the APX 8500 frees up radio channels by offloading data to LTE.

APX Personnel Accountability for ASTRO 25 trunked networks: The APX Personnel Accountability solution is now available for ASTRO 25 trunked networks (which enable efficient operation of large systems with a small number of channels) and continues to also be available on ASTRO 25 conventional networks (where users select communication channels).

Commanders using the APX Personnel Accountability solution can automatically perform tactical notifications and streamline roll call processes via a computer. They can automatically account for staff using APX radios at the scene of an incident. If a team needs to evacuate, commanders can instantly alert them through their radios and receive acknowledgements. Commanders can monitor radio battery life, identify radios and receive radio power down indications. If a radio is on the wrong channel, a commander can remotely switch the channel to the right one and ensure the entire team can communicate with each other.

ASTRO 25 Enhanced Geo Select: Geo Select provides hands free operation of APX radios when entering a defined region, or geofence, and this feature is now available even if the radio is no longer on the network. When entering a geofence, APX radios can automatically take action such as change channels, alert the user and change power levels. No manual intervention is needed.

ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air radio software updates: ASTRO 25 Over-The-Air Programming (OTAP) has been available for radio managers to remotely program APX radios. Now they will also be able to update APX radio software over-the-air for their entire fleet simultaneously over the course of a few days, without disrupting radio function in the field. With this new feature, there is no need to bring radios to the shop for software updates, saving both significant time and money.

IMPRES™ 2 energy system for APX radios: The new IMPRES 2 high-capacity, water-resistant batteries keep APX radios powered longer. When combined with the new IMPRES 2 charger, they deliver 60 percent more charging cycles than traditional lithium-ion batteries. The IMPRES 2 charger’s enhanced diagnostics provide usage data including a battery’s ability to hold a charge, letting users know when it’s time to replace it. The multi-unit chargers also feature customizable charging – batteries in service can be charged at 100 percent while those in storage can be partially charged to optimize battery life.

A giant solar storm nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1967

We all know how important radio communications are and at a time before the internet and even digital communications, governments relied on RF communications that were susceptible to the suns solar storms, if you add that to the cold war nuclear tensions then we could all be living in holes now.

Cold War history is rife with close calls that nearly led to nuclear holocaust.

In September 1983, for example, sunlight reflecting off a patch of clouds fooled a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting the launch of five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that never were. A wary colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch.

Two months later, US forces staged “Able Archer 83” — a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

Now scientists have one more hair-raising event to add to the books: The “Great Storm” of May 1967.

“The storm made its initial mark with a colossal solar radio burst causing radio interference … and near-simultaneous disruptions of dayside radio communication,” a group of atmospheric scientists and military weather service personnel wrote in a new study, published August 9 in the journalSpace Weather.

Hours later, high frequency communications dropped out near US military installations in and near the Arctic — one of the closest places to station nuclear weapons and launch them at a Cold War-era Soviet Union.

“Such an intense, never-before-observed solar radio burst was interpreted as jamming,” the study authors wrote. “Cold War military commanders viewed full scale jamming of surveillance sensors as a potential act of war.”

A ‘Great Storm’

Earth’s magnetic field protects life on the planet by corralling the sun’s high-energy particles toward the planet’s polar regions.

If the sun happens to launch a cloud of solar particles directly toward Earth during a violent outburst, called a coronal mass ejection, it can trigger powerful geomagnetic storms.

This not only leads to beautiful auroras, but can also scramble wireless communications and disrupt radar systems.

While The Washington Post wrote up a story about the storm as “City Gets Rare Look at Northern Lights,” top US military commanders sounded the alarms in secret.

The Air Weather Service (AWS) — a relatively new branch of the Air Force — had warned military leadership about the possibility of a solar storm, but US commanders believed the Soviet forces were jamming NORAD systems designed to detect threatening planes and missiles.

As the Strategic Air Command warmed up the engines of bombers and taxied toward the runway, the decision to go airborne may have been kicked all the way up to the “highest levels of government,” possibly involving President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“Just in time, military space weather forecasters conveyed information about the solar storm’s potential to disrupt radar and radio communications,” according to a press release from the American Geophysical Union. “The planes remained on the ground and the U.S. avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the Soviet Union.”

And this all happened at the peak of nuclear armament — when a record 31,255 nuclear weapons were deployed around the world. (Today there are roughly 7,200 nuclear armaments at hand.)

“Had it not been for the fact that we had invested very early on in solar and geomagnetic storm observations and forecasting, the impact [of the storm] likely would have been much greater,” study leader and UCAR atmospheric scientist Delores Knipp said in the release.

After the near miss, the researchers say the military learned to listen to its space weather forecasters, improve its abilities to see another looming “Great Storm,” and avert the first and perhaps final global nuclear exchange.


Find the original source here

The Sepura Group to Provide Communications for the Olympic Games

It’s a brave move by the olympic organisers, the London Olympic communications was run by Riedel and they did an excellent job, they have experience in this field, but the Brazilians are obviously set on using Teltronic and we all hope that they do just as good as a job.

Teltronic, part of the Sepura Group, has been chosen by the public security secretary of Río de Janeiro State in Brazil to supply communications for the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, informally known as Rio 2016.

The €10m contract will cover four venues (Barra da Tijuca, Copacabana, Deodoro and Maracanã), two airports (Rio de Janeiro/Galeão – Antônio Carlos Jobim International and Santos Dumont) and several key transport routes in the Olympic area.

The agreement with Teltronic will see an extension to the traffic capabilities of the existing Teltronic network currently used by the Rio police, as well as the installation of further Nebula base stations to provide additional coverage for the state police and emergency services, and the Olympics organisation workforce.

The existing network was originally provided by Teltronic for the Pan American Games in 2007 and, after some upgrades, is now supporting over 100 dispatch operators and more than 18,000 radios. This new upgrade for the Olympics will feature two extra TETRA carriers for each site, to update the capacity of the existing network; base stations with up to 12 TETRA transceivers to support high traffic loads throughout the event; a CeCoCo Control Centre, to accommodate a further 50 dispatch operators; an additional 6,000 terminals featuring Teltronic’s Synchronous Data Manager application to pare down the GPS refresh time in AVL applications; and 24/7 maintenance and operational support during the Games.

“This win builds on our long-term relationship with the Brazilian authorities and public safety agencies,” said Paulo Ferrao, the Sepura Group’s sales director for Brazil.

“We have a strong background in events of this scale, having supported communications for the FIFA World Cup 2014 and the Pan-American Games, both huge events in the sporting calendar of Brazil and, indeed, the world. We are delighted that Rio de Janeiro’s public safety agencies have, once again, placed their trust in us.”

Superintendent of critical communications at the Security Secretariat of the State, Colonel Alexandre Corval, commented: “We are extremely happy to have chosen Teltronic.

“The company has been a trustworthy partner to our public safety agencies for over ten years. Once again, they have exceeded our expectations in terms of technical development, quality of the deployment and, above all, their dedication to customer service: throughout the project, they have paid close attention to our technical and operational requirements.

“We are confident that this extension to the existing Teltronic TETRA system will optimise our mission-critical communications, enhancing the security of both visitors and employees throughout Rio 2016.”


In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed to—even by a few extra decibels—could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

Extreme conditions no match for latest motorola solutions radio

We all know that Motorola produce the best two way radios and claim to be best in class, that can be backed up, by just using their products. This article (original can be found here) focuses on radios for the fire service, but as we all know they are well adapted for the police, ambulance and search and rescue teams.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE: MSI) continues its legacy of designing best-in-class digital radio solutions for firefighters and other professionals who face extreme conditions with the introduction of the APX 8000XE two-way radio and APX XE500 RSM. The newest entries into Motorola Solutions’ award-winning APX portfolio of Project 25  (P25) digital radios have been developed using the company’s well-established practice of hands-on research with firefighters and other first responders who need the most reliable mission-critical communications to do their jobs efficiently, effectively and safely every day.

The APX 8000XE features all-band functionality and is a rugged P25 two-way radio that can be used in either analog or digital mode across 700/800MHz, VHF and UHF bands. Time is of the essence for firefighters and they can be ready in moments by programming the radio remotely via Wi-Fi and radio management software to operate securely on different radio networks, allowing them to quickly help neighboring counties during large-scale emergencies.

Motorola Solutions works closely with firefighters and other radio users to find out exactly what they need and the APX 8000XE is the latest example of that thinking. It features the trusted ergonomics of the APX XE radio series, designed for easy operation in harsh conditions. The right-sized radio has a large top display, exaggerated controls for gloved hands and a dedicated push-to-talk button. It also provides best-in-class audio with a 1-watt speaker, three built-in microphones and automatic noise suppression for clarity in the loudest of environments.

“The APX 8000XE is an all-band rugged and submersible portable radio made for firefighters,” said Lieutenant David Hudik, Elgin, Illinois Fire Department. “With Wi-Fi access, we can reprogram the APX 8000XE on the fly when we are providing mutual aid assistance out-of-state.”

Most firefighters use a remote speaker microphone with their radios and the APX XE500 RSM is designed specifically for demanding environments, whether combating a fire or providing medical services at the scene of an accident.

– With five strategically placed microphones and automatic noise suppression, the APX XE500  provides clear communications when worn on either shoulder, center chest, or over the shoulder

– It can be submersed in 2 meters of water for up to 4 hours

– It withstands heat conditions of up to 500°F (260°C) for up to 5 minutes

– A channel knob automatically controls the channels of the user’s portable APX radio

“With the APX XE500 RSM, I can completely control my APX radio without having to hunt under my bunker coat for it,” said Lieutenant David Hudik, Elgin Fire Department. “With improved water porting, you can carry the APX XE500 upright or upside down for fast water drainage while maintaining clear voice communications.”

“Customer input is essential to our design and the Elgin Fire Department was right at our side as we tested the capabilities of the APX 8000XE and APX XE500 RSM,” said Claudia Rodriguez, vice president, Devices Product Management, Motorola Solutions. “The latest XE radio means firefighters will be able to talk with other first responders at the scene and across municipalities and regions. The new rugged RSM means they can communicate clearly in the loudest fireground environments, including blaring horns and wailing sirens.”

Trends in … hearing protection

Many business and factories are very well aware of their legal obligations when it comes to occupational deafness, and here in the UK we have the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2006. Many of the headsets that are listed on are designed exactly for these types of industries, with their experience they are a leader in radio headsets and hearing protection equipment. But as the article below explains the protection has to personalised to everyone, so as to make sure that the individual is catered for and protected adequately. The original source of this article can be found here.

Hearing loss is preventable. Why, then, is it still so common? NIOSH notes that occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. And according to OSHA, approximately 30 million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise on the job.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is generally a gradual and painless process, so many workers don’t consider it a hazard … until it’s too late,” said Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc. Mielcarek went on to say that workers don’t wear hearing protection for many reasons, including discomfort, poor fit and problems with compliance monitoring and trouble inserting earplugs.

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new and offer advice on hearing protection.

What’s new

“Electronic muffs contain the latest technology designed to protect against environments with impulse noises,” said Eric Moreno, market manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. “The technology amplifies weak sounds while compressing dangerous noises to a predetermined safe level of 82 dB or lower.” Moreno said this allows face-to-face communication and lets workers hear important sounds, such as warning signals.

Gary Klee, product manager for above-the-neck products at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., pointed to a “level-dependent system” available with electronic earmuffs. This system has microphones in both ear cups to help limit sounds reproduced through the internal speakers to a safe level, which “allows communication with others while remaining protected against impulsive or hazardous noise,” Klee said.


Ricardo Allamelou, COO for Miami Lakes, FL-based Cotral Lab Inc., said providing every worker with the exact same type of hearing protection doesn’t make sense. “The protection has to be personalized since overprotection is as dangerous as no protection at all,” he said.

According to Moreno, “Overprotecting can actually increase the danger to a person’s life because this can hinder their ability to hear relevant noises such as warning signals, moving vehicles, other workers, etc.” To reduce the chance of overprotecting, Moreno recommends thoroughly understanding the level of noise in every area of the workplace to determine what level of protection each area needs.

Additionally, be sure your hearing protection is independently, third-party tested to verify noise reduction ratings, Mielcarek said. “This helps communicate quality in an industry where many manufacturers simply mark their products with a standard or a rating, without the testing to back it up.”

Scientists Astounded as Four Legged Fossil Snake Turns up In Museum

A unique species of early cretaceous snake – unique in that it apparently had four functioning limbs – has been discovered in the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen, Germany this month.

The discovery was made by Dr. David Martill of the University of Portsmouth, who was showing a group of students through the museum’s collection when he noticed the specimen’s remarkable attributes.

The snake, which measured about 15 centimetres from nose to tail, is thought to have been a carnivore (a fact borne out by the bones of smaller animals preserved in its stomach) and probably hunted via constriction, like many of today’s snakes. Experts believe that it may even have used its limbs to aid in the process.

Built for burrowing (an activity which likely would not have included its limbs in any significant way), this new discovery lends credence to the scientists who argue for snake evolution occurring on land, as opposed to in the sea.

Fossil snakes with stunted hind limbs are known to palaeontologists – and even today’s boas and pythons have a small pair of spurs where their hind limbs are thought to have once been. However, no snake, extinct or extant, has ever been discovered with four limbs.

Appropriately enough, Dr. Martill named the creature Tetrapodophis, meaning ‘four-legged snake’.

However, some experts are not convinced. In our vibrant, ecologically diverse world, there are a great many species of legless lizards that are not true snakes. European slow worms, for example, are snake-like in aspect, but they are lizards, not snakes. Another example would be the Mexican Bipedidae family, which are serpentine in appearance, but which retain a pair of fully functioning forelimbs.

“Is it even a snake? I honestly don’t think so,” said the University of Alberta’s Dr. Michael Caldwell, an expert in snake evolution, to National’s Ed Yong. According to Caldwell and a growing number of other critics, Tetrapodophis lacks certain distinctive features in the spine and the skull that would label it a snake. The fact that this is the only known specimen in the world and that the skull is only partially preserved will probably see the debate continue until such time as a complete specimen is unearthed.

But Dr. Martill is insistent that his discovery is a snake. Speaking to National Geographic, he pointed out the specimen’s backwards-pointing teeth, single row of belly scales, the connections between the vertebrae and the shortness of the animal’s tail after the hip – all of which suggest snake to the educated observer. Of course, many legless lizards also feature these traits, but none has all of them. This means that even if the animal has been mis-identified, it is still totally unique to science.

Even more mysterious are the origins of the fossil itself, which contains the rather distinctive characteristics indicative of the Crato formation in Brazil. Discounting for a second that this is quite possibly the earliest fossil snake known to have emerged from South America, question marks have been raised regarding how the specimen could have made it to Germany when the trade of such artefacts is illegal under Brazilian law.

Since 1942, it has been illegal for any unlicensed person to dig for fossils in Brazil without first gaining permission from the Brazilian National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). Last year, a number of people were prosecuted (where they faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison) for the illegal export of Brazilian fossils to museums in Germany and Great Britain. Odds are that Brazilian authorities, as well as the scientific community in general, will be looking into the origins of such an important find with great interest.

The Effect of Earplugs in Preventing Hearing Loss From Recreational Noise Exposure (A Systematic Review)

This is an interesting review of a study of how effective ear plugs are in the workplace. We take for granted that people working in loud factories wear protective hearing, but many of the clubs, pubs, concerts and festivals that have as equal levels of sound. As they say below, it isn’t mandatory to wear ear plugs in such environments, which defies common sense and possibly causes more damage than we understand. Here you can find the original source of the review.

A review of the literature turned up only two high quality studies that looked at whether wearing earplugs to music venues will prevent hearing loss and tinnitus directly afterward.

Dr. Wilko Grolman and colleagues at University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands searched for published studies containing the keywords “music” and “earplugs” and screened 228 resulting papers. All but four were not eligible for inclusion in the review and only two were highly relevant and did not have a high risk of bias, in the reviewers’ estimation.

Two studies simply examined people who chose on their own to wear or not wear earplugs, while two randomized controlled trials tested what happened when participants were assigned to wear earplugs or not.

Two studies reported on hearing loss and tinnitus while one only reported hearing loss.

The two best studies were different enough that the researchers couldn’t combine their data and analyze the results, the reviewers wrote. Both included 29 concert attendees and performed audiometry before and after the concerts. In one study, participants were allowed to choose whether or not they wore earplugs, and only three chose to wear them.

“Frankly, with such a small comparator group between three subjects and the others, it would be hard to assess validity of plugs or not,” said Dr. Jennifer Derebery, president of the Los Angeles Society of Otolaryngology and lead author of the first study.

“We had trained them all in proper insertion, and encouraged but not required wearing them,” Derebery told Reuters Health by email.

In the other study, 15 participants were assigned to the earplug group.

In general, wearing earplugs did reduce hearing loss directly after the concerts, but did not eliminate it completely, as reported online March 3 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

“Ear plugs are effective in preventing hearing loss when they are used both correctly and consistently,” said Colleen G. Le Prell, the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, who was not involved in the review.

“This systematic review highlights the very limited data on prevention of recreational music-induced hearing loss using earplugs,” Le Prell told Reuters Health by email.

“At younger ages, loud toys, firecrackers, loud video games, personal stereos or personal music players, lawnmowers or leaf blowers, sporting events or air shows, or other non-music events might be more likely noisy activities than music venue attendance,” Le Prell said. “A significant number of youth are also involved in target shooting activities, which children can get involved with through Boy Scouts or other organizations.”

For teens and young adults, repeat exposures to amplified music at clubs, concerts, festivals, or other related events may damage the inner ear and result in hearing loss, she said.

“Most concerts are both loud enough, and long enough, that they are likely to exceed the total daily exposure allowed by workplace safety regulations,” she said. “Sound exposure also commonly occurs via loud music delivered via personal listening devices, at sporting or other recreational events, and at jobs that involve lawn-mowing, use of power tools, or construction services.”

For workplace noise exposure, “we are not doing a very good job achieving correct and consistent use of hearing protection devices (HPD), including both ear plugs and ear muffs,” she said.

“In the United States, it is relatively uncommon for music venues to provide ear plugs at no charge,” Le Prell said. Even if they were provided, people may need to be educated in why using them is important and in how to use them correctly, she said.

“As a neurotologist, it really is upsetting to see these kids coming in younger and younger with a completely preventable hearing loss,” Derebery said.

World Radio Day focuses on role of radio in disaster management

World Radio Day on 13 February brings attention to the role of radio in managing disasters and recovery in their aftermath.

Radio is recognized as a low-cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and is especially effective in reaching people affected by disasters when other means of communication are disrupted. Terrestrial radio broadcasts are effective in providing timely, relevant and practical information to people who are confused and demoralised by the impact of a crisis. Broadcast information is particularly useful in situations where physical access is difficult and aid responders may take several days or weeks to reach affected communities.

Recent natural and man-made disasters are a major cause for concern to the global community. “In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information. This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress. On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.”

“Radiocommunication is indispensable in saving lives in the event of a natural disaster,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Collaborating and sharing experiences is critical in order to support national and regional preparedness, and ITU is deeply committed to facilitating rapid and effective response in emergencies.”

“Amidst the ruins and in the face of an emergency, the radio is often the first medium for survival,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “Its durability is an incomparable advantage, often enabling it to resist shocks and re-transmit messages of protection and prevention to as many people as possible, better and faster than other media, saving lives.”

New developments in radio technology and in the transmission and delivery of radio content, especially through mobile devices and through on-demand media platforms, further extend the means to engage disaster-affected communities. These digital innovations are increasingly important in delivering effective disaster preparedness and prevention, while reinforcing the importance of community radio services.

ITU has developed a number of standards for effective emergency radiocommunications, recognizing that direct communication via radio helps reduce the sense of isolation and helplessness experienced by crisis-affected communities. Recommendation ITU-R BT.1774-2 is the standard that relates to emergency warning systems for analogue broadcasting, which facilitates the use of satellite and terrestrial broadcast infrastructures for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief.

In addition, the 2015 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) identified spectrum to facilitate mobile broadband communications for robust and reliable mission-critical emergency services in public protection and disaster relief (PPDR), such as police, fire, ambulances and disaster response teams. WRC-15 also reinforced protection to search and rescue beacons to uplink to satellites, such as the Cospas-Sarsat system, which has assisted in rescuing over 37,000 people worldwide since December 2013.

World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the first broadcast by UN Radio in 1946, when it transmitted its first call sign: “This is the United Nations calling the peoples of the world.” Ever since, UN Radio broadcasts have highlighted the principles of the United Nations to foster world peace and development. World Radio Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of radio, facilitate access to information through radio, and enhance networking among broadcasters.

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