Motorola Solutions launched what it called a next-generation Project 25 (P25) radio, with a smartphone-like form factor, virtual assistant technology, and Long Term Evolution (LTE) band 14 capabilities.
The APX NEXT device is part of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) embedded program and has a data-only subscriber identity module (SIM) for the FirstNet network. All normal P25 features are included in the radio, but LTE features are purchased through a monthly service and fee managed by Motorola.
ViQi is a public-safety virtual assistant that provides vital information to first responders in the field and allows users to operate APX NEXT via voice control. Users can change the radio volume and channels, for example, through voice commands. The technology incorporates artificial intelligence and machine learning and understands public-safety jargon and slang, said Motorola Senior Vice President of Technology Paul Steinberg. Earlier this month, Motorola invested in GreenKey Technologies, a provider of natural language processing and said it was deploying GreenKey’s speech recognition technology across its command center suite.
The radio also has a rugged touchscreen that allows users to control the radio through touch when they don’t need their eyes up for safety. The radio has traditional knobs as well.
Additional features include SmartConnect, which detects when an LMR signal is low and automatically switches to broadband connectivity, ensuring continuity of push-to-talk (PTT) voice communications. It then switches back to LMR when the signal returns with no user intervention required.
Two LTE-specific features include SmartLocate, which sends an officer’s location data over broadband to a dispatcher’s mapping console, providing dispatchers with up-to-date location information as fast as every 3 seconds. The radio’s software and configuration data can be rapidly updated over broadband with SmartProgramming.
The LTE features require a monthly service fee to Motorola, which handles upgrades and management. LTE and LMR features can work simultaneously with the radio sending LTE data at the same time as P25 voice.
“APX NEXT was created after more than 2,000 hours of extensive field research and testing with numerous law enforcement agencies,” said Scott Mottonen, Motorola senior vice president of products. “We know that first responders need technology to be intuitive and intelligent to allow them to remain eyes up, hands free and focused in any situation.”
Two customers that beta tested the commercially available device have placed orders, said Ben Ansell, Motorola public-safety product marketing.
“A radio is a first responder’s lifeline when 100% of their attention needs to be on the people and events around them,” said Collin Arnold, director of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security. “Motorola Solutions worked closely with our public-safety team, who is nationally recognized for their technology leadership, to build a radio that goes far beyond what we thought possible. APX NEXT and ViQi allow our first responders to keep their eyes on what’s happening while obtaining the critical information they need to help protect our community.” Ansell said the radio is “slightly more expensive” than Motorola’s flagship APX 8000. “Because of the features as a service, the pricing is more flexible,” he said. “You can buy just the radio with no apps or have everything switched on for the monthly service fee.” Would you like to comment on this story? Find our comments system below.