TreeTalk Intercom Prototype ver. 0.1

TTbox2
Intercom on the conveyor line

 

For the startup TreeTalk, the summer of 2018 turned out to be really hot, but productive. We moved to Rome, got acquainted with the local innovation ecosystem (the story is still to come), tested the new version of The Terminal One in extreme hot climate conditions. And now this is it – first working version (according to the internal numbering of TreeTalk – ver. 0.1) of a completely new device, code-named Intercom, appeared!

Intercom4

This is the natural development of the overall concept. Since we already have a ready-to-use infrastructure for voice and device management (TreeTalk platform), why not add devices to the product line that are not quite mobile (but more about that later), but also work with voice information and require grouping together with possible topology of the “star” type, with the dispatcher’s computer in the center.

Intercom_color_mini

And here is the very first workable prototype of the product of this series. Externally, it really looks like a door phone or an intercom, and it’s as simple from the outside – the user just press and hold one TT button (TreeTalk or ToTalk, whatever you want) to contact his team or dispatcher. So far, everything seems familiar. But then – the differences begin:

  • TreeTalk Intercom does not require the laying of cable communication lines – it works with existing Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, 2G, any data transmission networks (depending on the modification chosen). However, on twisted pair it can work too.

    Intercom_Control_Desk
    Old-style Intercom Control Desk – photo by H.stadler
  • TreeTalk Intercom does not require hardware control desk, switches or commutators – it runs on a cloud-based TreeTalk platform, and it’s enough for the user (figuratively speaking) to make a few clicks of the mouse in a convenient and intuitive user web interface to create a group of devices, to make the necessary settings, and to link it to the dispatcher’s program.
  • TreeTalk Intercom is a digital device and the quality of the transmitted speech is also digital.

  • TreeTalk Intercom has useful features – an indication of the incoming message and its  replay (if necessary) or a response on the reverse channel, depending on how the second button is configured.

Where is needed all that? Briefly – everywhere, where constant connection

and voice communication in real time is required – in warehouses, in shops, in offices, workshops and garages, in manufacturing and on the conveyor, on

Bolinders_teleradio
Aged Bolinders Teleradio

technological machines and transport, in elevators and basements. And on the doors and gates with access control system, too 🙂 Slightly modified communication modules can be built into ATM, parking meter, self-service kiosk, and so on.

Loudaphone_on_Queen_Mary
Loudaphone on Queen Mary – photo by Binksternet

For example, if an ATM swallows a card, or the vending machine is acting up, nowadays you have to find a hotline phone number, to call, to wade through annoying ads and “press 1 for this, press 2 for that”, then explain the problem to the service employee a long while. Instead, simply press a button and talk – TreeTalk connects instantly, and the operator is already known exactly where you are, and probably what happened.

Let’s look into the nearest future. You definitely will see Big Button with Purple TT Sign on the dashboard of self-driving cab, taking you home. Because even if algorithms, controlling the autonomous vehicle, look ideal, always there is a room for surprise in the real life. So the people inside and, maybe, outside the vehicle must have the opportunity of instant voice connection to the dispatcher / control tower / support.

Afterward, imagine a goofy delivery robot obtruding the wrong sort of pizza, which you have not ordered — you just may to push a similar button on it and instantly tell the operator what do you think about Artificial Intelligence.

They say “Hardware is hard”. But anyone who developed hardware from the outline (“from 0 to 1”), will confirm that it’s hard to compare to something th

TreeTalk Intercom 3D model
TreeTalk Intercom 3D model

e feeling, when an idea generates a sketch, then 3D model appears, and now there is something to hold in your hands, and here it WORKS! There will be many tests, iterations, modifications ahead, before the device will be ready for production. But the working capacity of the concept is proofed, the further is just a matter of technology and grind work.

TreeTalk Intercom
TreeTalk Intercom

TreeTalk: The Terminal One – Field Tests 2018. Summer. Hot Summer.

TreeTalk Terminal
TreeTalk Terminal

Moving to the other city to the other country and is very time consuming. And, of course, is exciting. Especially if “the other city” is the Eternal City. Any movement is also distracting, but we are strong 🙂 So, despite the traditional Italian vacation time, we are trying to work. August is hot this year, and people run to the seaside. But we are already here and ready to take full advantage of the ardent heat.

If you can remember, once upon a time, we tested our very first prototype in the really harsh conditions of Siberian winter. Now we have reincarnMeteoStation_48ation number 3 of that prototype, and it’s time to trial it under the Southern sun. The conditions appear harsh enough, too, but in the opposite sense. The terminal was subject to temperature extremes up to +55 Celsius (131 Fahrenheit). The temperature inside the black metallic enclosure was 10-20 degrees more. During the test time, the built-in audit system recorded the slightest failures in the network connection, in the electronics and embedded firmware.

We have got a lot of data, most of which we still have to process, but we have first interesting results.

Spoiler: most of the tests completed successfully, clearly confirming the advantages of the TreeTalk terminal over conventional and trunked radios in the reliability and quality of the voice and in the convenience of handling.

Contrary to expectations, the extreme heat itself did not effect electronics much. But we could mark, thanks to specific environments, two peculiarities.

First one is an unstable data transfer speed of the local mobile carrier. Despite the fact that the signal almost did not disappear anywhere at all, the real data transfer speed varied in the wider range, then we use to see earlier, and the frequency switched from 3g to 4g and back more often. Perhaps, this effect is tied to uneven distribution of tourists (and their smart phones). Fortunately, our specially developed protocol, and speech-compression technology was made for working in low-speed second-generation networks. So, “LTE tourist challenge” was not a problem for our device.

RomeAlso, we found, that stability of geo-positioning was not as good as always in the narrow streets and small squares of the old Rome center. Sometimes, the majority of satellites became invisible to the GPS antenna, and precision of geo-positioning deteriorated. It seems to me, we finally unraveled the reason for the mysterious disappearances and quantum leaps of Roman buses on the maps of transport applications 🙂

Quite seriously, we anticipated this issue and evident solution will be to try using the geo-positioning chips that have real-time multi-system tuner, instead of a multi – system tuner, working in the switching mode. Perhaps, we should also slightly tune the predictive algorithm in order to make it more intelligent in the such cases. All these improvements will be done in the next version of the hardware. We hope that the next version of the terminal will be even more robust.

 

TreeTalk is moving to Rome!

Rome

Great news!
As you could see in our Twitter blog, in the end of 2017 our startup TreeTalk was selected for the Italia Startup Visa program by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, and finally we are in the Eternal City!

Somebody could ask “Why Italy? Your startup is not about agrifood, hospitality, what else Italy famous for… Why not Silicon Valley or, maybe, Singapore?”

We have the short answer – because we love Italy!

And we have a long answer – do you know that Italian Republic is one of the European manufacturing leaders? That it is, at the same time, a big market itself and a part of the huge border-less European market, which is larger than US market? Do you know that EU has trade agreements with Canada and Japan, to name a few?

On the other hand, TreeTalk is moving closer and closer to start of production. And our B2B products can find their niche it the agrifood, hospitality, transportation – wherever the professionals need reliable, convenient real-time voice communications. That’s why we trust in this mutually profitable and long-term union.