Author: Cnl7Nh

New Technology For Older Generations

While I am a total technology geek who spends hours reading through all types of tech blogs and magazines, this knowledge that I gain is limited in who I can communicate it to. In fairness, who really wants to have in-depth conversation about the advantages of LTE vs 4G standards without falling asleep? Yes, there are plenty of my friends that love these conversations, but when I meet most of my family, especially the older generations I might as well be speaking to a wall.

When asked at those family events by aunts and uncles and grandparents how my work is going and what I do, most can understand that I like radio communications and work for a telecoms company. That’s probably as far as it goes.

However, they somehow think that I just fix phone lines, rather than work on complex communications routing systems. If I even mention the word blog about comms technology the little understanding they may have is lost. Of course, very few of them use the Internet, and if they do it is for minimal news reading at best.

However, I recently tried a different approach to this, when my grandmother had a problem with her home phone system that was causing her understandable worries. She is no longer the most mobile person and requires a walking frame to get around the house. This is a common reality for many elderly people and she does count herself blessed that she can live on her own.

However, she is very reliant on her phone as it is the main way for her to contact family and friends in case of an emergency. Her old phone was a very reliable large button phone but it was wired. So she ended up having one of them in multiple rooms which must have been a nightmare when the whole house seemed to ring in multiple locations.

Anyway, one of these had broken down and this model was no longer available, so she was worried about getting a new one. I initially thought I could just pick up a standard cordless phone and she would be all sorted, but when I showed her the one I have, she was not happy with the display and button size.

So, I had to do some research and thankfully has an extensive section with recommendations of the best cordless phone for seniors and their individual merits. I was able to show her pictures of the cordless phone and she was happy that it would be large enough to use.

It’s now been 3 weeks since I installed it for her and she has already called me back to get rid of the old phones, which had to stay just in case she wasn’t happy.

So, even though my granny doesn’t fully understand what it is I do, we have been able to relate our passions and concerns on the basis of modern technology.

Some Insights Into The Emergency Services Communication Systems

One of my best friends from school, Jason, recently advanced from EMT to paramedic after quite a few years of intensive training. I had met him on several occasions during his EMT and paramedic training as he had some questions about wireless communication equipment, and he know what kind of a geek I am in that department. I was more than happy to look through his training materials on the emergency services’ radio communications and help him out to understand some of the technicalities.

One important part of EMT training was the wireless communication between the ambulances, emergency responders, ambulance base and the hospitals. While the communications devices in ambulances are designed to be relatively easy to use, EMTs have to be aware of how they work and to an extent know how to troubleshoot any problems.

ambulanceJason has been in the emergency services for about 9 years now and he started out his EMT training in NJ somewhere (I’ll double check with him the next time I talk to him). I like talking to him about some the technological advances he has encountered. One area that doesn’t seem to have changed that much though is the radio communication in the ambulances. This is kind of strange to me because there have been so many advances that could be used, but I guess there is a lot of security to take into account as well.

The basic principle of the EMS comm system is very similar to ham radio in that it is a two way system, but it does have some extras built in. First of all it uses a frequency that is only allowed to be used by emergency and police services. It also a backup/redundant capability system for each vehicle, so that if one system fails another can take over

The system is set up so that EMTs and paramedics can easily communicate with hospitals, ambulance bases and very importantly with other emergency services like the police and fire departments. One thing that has evolved a bit is quality of the mobile on person radio devices that emergency responders carry. Jason had in the past complained about how difficult it could be to get a clear message across and there were often misunderstandings even with a code and terminology set that was supposed to avoid misunderstandings.

I know this very well from my own radio equipment, that the smaller a device the more difficult it is to get a good reception. But I am glad to hear that medical professionals like Jason have received better equipment as it can mean a big difference between a patient living or dying.

One of the most important lines of communication is between the 999 operators and emergency department dispatching services to the ambulance. In some circumstances information is relayed, but it can also happen that a 999 operator is directly patched through to an ambulance crew to pass on vital information about a scene of accident for example.

Because the radio system being used today has become so reliable it is still the favored system and emergency crews quickly adapt to an audio quality that can often be of fluctuating quality. I guess it is sometimes better the devil you know.

Wireless Technology Is Everywhere

My aim for this blog has always been wireless communication and technology, but obviously there is only that much you can write about Ham radio and the really nerdy stuff. So, I have started branching out a bit and my inquisitive nature has led me to look for wireless communication in all sorts of hidden places. Bluetooth is one of the latest technologies that has really started appearing almost everywhere. Everything from cell phones to speakers and notebooks have all sorts of features that utilize Bluetooth. In this post I want to highlight some of the more interesting items and gadgets I have encountered.

Heart Rate Monitors

5213ccb1757b7f4c568b4568First note, I’m not big into running but my brother is a triathlete and like myself he loves technology and gadgets. When I met him last he just returned from a run and I saw him take off a weird strap from around his chest. At first I was worried as it looked like some sort of medical device, but in fact it was a heart rate monitor that he uses for training.

The way it works is that the chest strap measures his heart rate and sends it via Bluetooth to his iPhone. The heart monitor app on the iPhone then displays the heart rate and indicates whether he needs to train harder or ease off a bit. He told me that a similar set up 3 years ago would have cost him over $400, but for $65 he now has a fantastic Bluetooth based heart rate monitor hooked up to a free app on the phone.

Keyless Entry

I’ve seen some commercials for keyless car entry, and usually they have been on luxury cars. But Bluetooth has now also created a market for keyless home entry. At first I thought that this was just stupid, who could possibly be that lazy to not use a key. But there are some advantages, like for example it is a lot more difficult to “pick” a digital lock, so it is safer. Also, it is a very handy system for people with disabilities who may struggle with a standard key.


I am very opposed to drink driving and think people should be a lot more aware of the dangers. I often see people that are probably on a verge of having had a few too many sips. I think if more people had a relatively inexpensive device then they would be more aware. BACtrack has a Bluetooth device that does just that and also sends that info to your phone. Now imagine having a car that only unlocks if you have passed your breathalyser, would that be a great feature?

Let me know what kind of Bluetooth gadgets you have encountered. I just love where all this wireless tech is appearing these days.