What's new in intercoms, phone systems
What's new in intercoms, phone systems

Mar 1, 2000 12:00 PM
Jeanne Bonner

The field of communication, phone and intercom systems is growing. With recent advances in the use of video and biometrics, the systems are no longer acting as standalone units but are increasingly integrated with access control and alarm systems. According to Sam Shanes, executive vice president of Talk-A-Phone, Chicago, technological advances will result in increased specialization, thus further encouraging cooperation among manufacturers. Partnerships and integration will increase in the future, he add, with partnerships and integration occurring "laterally to other manufacturers and vertically with existing and new customers." Suppliers of intercoms, communication and phone systems include Jeron, TOA, and Viscount.

Another supplier, Aiphone, Bellevue, Wash., has incorporated video into many of its products. The company will soon be releasing to the market a new product, the 1X3 Color Tilt Video Entry System, featuring a tilt camera at the door which can move 40 degrees horizontally to get a more complete view of the entrance. The monitor stations feature a four-stroke electronic chime, audio and video monitoring, high-contrast color monitoring and door release.

Aiphone, as well as other suppliers, have noticed an increased interest in security from the school/ education market. They also are finding an increased trend toward fully integrated systems. Video is making its way from the guard stations to businesses, government offices and hospitals, in addition to many schools.

Video has also been critical to Talk-A-Phone's efforts. Talk-A-Phone, Chicago, is seeing video incorporated with its Emergency Phone product in both the hardware and the software. Talk-A-Phone provides fixed CCTV and Speeddome CCTV options mounted in the same enclosure as the Emergency Phones. The feature permits guards not only to communicate with someone in difficulty but also to see the problem on the monitor. In addition, the emergency phones have auxiliary outputs which, with a push of the help button, can get the guard's attention and activate a camera installed near the phone.

Stento, Kansas City, Mo., has augmented its line of AlphaCom communications products with the new AlphaCom-M system. The new product is smaller than the original, but uses the same boards and PC programming. The AlphaCom-M can link numerous buildings in a multi-building complex. It features handsfree and confidential modes, program distribution, and direct dialing. It also has optional interfaces for paging, and two-way radio. AlphaCom-M is ideal for outdoor installations, such as parking garages. It features weather- and tamper-resistant stations, emergency strobe stations, microphone units, amplifiers and loudspeakers.

Stento has also recently released the 82100 Emergency/Security Station, a single button full-duplex phone. Its single-button activation is suitable for situations that require immediate, two-way communications and occur in isolated locations such as elevators, stairwells, walkways and gates. It includes a "push for Help" Braille plate. Two lights, one red marked "Calling" and one green marked "Received" indicate the status of the call. The message is programmable and generally provides the location of the emergency station. It weighs 6 lbs. and can operate effectively in a temperature range of -20degreesC to 60degreesC.

According to Tina Cox of Stento, intercoms are moving "beyond traditional applications ... into more complex and demanding environments." Intercoms have moved from passive monitoring systems to two-way audio and video commun- ications. The units are interactive. The voice element of the new intercom systems adds an additional means of verification.

Stento's digital systems can be integrated with video switches, intrusion alarms and access control equipment. Cox says, "Stento systems have multiple I/O ports with the ability and software to simultanously transmit and receive data information to and from other security systems."

Talk-A-Phone sees an extension of systems that they have already installed and cites the Johns Hopkins Medical Center installation as an example. Talk-A-Phone emergency phones were already installed in the parking decks of the hospital when they decided to add the same phones to the elevators.

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