Motorola unveils new multi-band radios at APCO show

By Doug Wyllie
FireRescue1 Staff

A new line of portable and in-car radio units have been unveiled that aim to address individual usability and multi-agency interoperability.

Motorola launched the new units at the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials - International annual conference in Kansas City earlier this month.

The company hopes these will improve the way in which users interact with the radio itself, and how the radio interacts with the wireless networks (both present day and future generation) used by public safety agencies across the country.

The APX 7500 (in-car) and the APX 7000 (handheld portable) units are Project 25 (P25) Phase I compliant and are upgradeable to support P25 Phase II for better spectrum utilization when that becomes available. Both units operate in 700MHz and 800 MHz as well as VHF swaths of wireless spectrum and will be available in other bands as they are introduced.

"This radio, we believe, is a game-changing radio," said Tom Quirke, Motorola senior director of product marketing.

The APX 7000 portable unit has more room at the top of the unit for manipulating the knobs and dials, he said, making the radio "easy to use, even when you're wearing gloves." Meanwhile, these handhelds are somewhat smaller than the company's earlier-generation XTS 5000. Quirke said the design is a direct response to an extensive survey of first responders, where they indicated radios should be smaller, louder and easier to use.

In addition, the design team at Motorola took into account the high-stress environment in which public safety workers perform.

"Under stressful conditions, you can lose certain cognitive abilities – one of those cognitive abilities which diminish rapidly is the ability to read," Quirke said.

In the design of APX, he added, the developers aimed to increase ease-of-use for public safety workers. In particular, the designers used intelligence gathered by behavioral psychologists who employ a discipline called the "High Velocity Human Factors (HVHF)" concept, which Motorola says "takes the concept of Human Factors Sciences to a new level."

For example, screens on these new units can indicate with simple color codes the status of an individual's connectivity (or lack thereof) to the network, as well as the status of other users on the network. When an officer is out of range, the screen goes red, and by pressing an "emergency button" on either unit, a user in trouble instantly alerts everyone on the system that they've got a problem.

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