Video, clarifying the TreeTalk devices, software and infrastructure in 90 seconds, in English:
Video, clarifying the TreeTalk devices, software and infrastructure in 90 seconds, in English:
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!
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.
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.
TreeTalk Intercom is a digital device and the quality of the transmitted speech is also digital.
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
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.
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
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.
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 reincarnation 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.
Also, 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 has begun conducting the real-life tests of the voice terminal. Now the prototypes are being tested in the cars, which is riding around the city and near suburbs in a mode of normal use. Thus, during parking, warm-up and on the move the terminals are subject to temperature extremes from -30 to +20 Celsius (-22 to +68 Fahrenheit). All this time, the built-in audit system records the slightest failures in the network connection, the electronics and embedded firmware.
First trial run confirmed all of the declared advantages of TreeTalk solution. Yes, it still looks like a professional (conventional or trunked) two-way radio. It inherits the pluses of LMR/PMR: broadcasting, constant connection, instant calls, and simplicity. Additionally, TreeTalk adds its own features.
The differences are becoming clear from the very beginning.
First, users of the TreeTalk devices do not need to spend time and effort to complex mounting. The device fits the standard 1-DIN slot perfectly and there is still enough place remaining for the car audio. Professional transceivers are heavy and usually hot. They are energy consuming, thus require dedicated power line from the car battery, made of thick wires. In contrary, TT terminal is light in weight and require minimum power (0.5 Amp). It is omnivorous (10-26 V), so did not require any special DC-DC converter. Its installation is easy, because our specimen has not any wires or connectors on the back panel to connect somewhere.
Strict design looks good in the dashboard of the car. Frontal speaker gives a sound loud enough, even on the medium volume level.
Second, TreeTalk terminal works without any external antenna. Radio hobbyists and professionals know that antenna, sticking out of the car top, is a weak spot and eternal headache. It is always going to be lost or broken, and the cable tends to be tangled and torn. So no antenna – no problem.
Third, the terminal is very friendly. All manipulations with the buttons are accompanied by signals or voice announcements (in English). If you miss the last message, led indicates that it is recorded — you can just push ‘REPEAT’ button to listen to it. (If you did not understand or resolve some important information, you can make that again).
(To be continued…)
TreeTalk has conducted regular field tests of the voice terminal prototype.
The terminal is designed for professional control room and group real time communications. In fact, this is a new class of mobile devices, in which the traditional strengths of radio communication (instant connection, broadcasting and simplicity) were coupled with the advantages of modern data networks. The voice signal is digitized, compressed, and transmitted by the Terminal to other similar devices and dispatching computers without loss of quality. Thanks to a specially developed protocol, even low-speed second-generation network, covering 90% of the world population may be used as a transport medium.
The methodology of the current test was designed to assess the stability of the device and firmware in real operating conditions.
Within 14 days the equipment was tested around the clock in the laboratory. After that, within 7 days the experimental model of the terminal was working in a car that was moving around the city and nearby suburbs in a mode of normal use. Thus, during parking, warm-up and on the move the terminal subjected to temperature extremes from -30 to +20 Celsius (-22 to +68 Fahrenheit). All this time, built-in audit system was recording the slightest failures in the network connection, the electronics and embedded firmware.
Then, a mobile measuring and laboratory benches were installed and the parameters of the speech signal were measured (in particular, the signal-to-noise ratio and frequency response), which describe the intelligibility and voice recognition when it is transferred from the terminal to other terminals or to the control room computer.
Current testing has been specially planned for the winter period and held in harsh conditions. However, most of the tests completed successfully, clearly confirming the advantages of the TreeTalk terminal in the reliability and quality of the voice, and the convenience of handling over conventional and trunked radios.
Users of TT terminals do not need to spend time and effort to obtain radio frequencies, search for a suitable location for the control tower and to install bulky antennas. It will be sufficient to purchase the required number of terminals and combine them into a virtual channel via a simple web interface to start using. TreeTalk LLC specialists believe that their technology, due to the convenience, the digital signal quality and additional features, will soon replace the obsolete analogue radio and will be used wherever you need a reliable, constant and instant voice communication.