Q: Is there a particular emerging application or technology that intrigues you?
A: Detection of contraband cell phones in correctional facilities is a growing problem.
Mobile phones are everywhere and they are getting smaller. With the growing demand of wearable technology mobile phones are being integrated into smart watches that have full capability of standard smart phones but can be mistaken for a regular watch. When contraband cell phones get smuggled into prison they are used to orchestrate crimes, intimidate witnesses, buy/sell drugs, and conduct gang activities. BVS has developed an effective line of cell phone detection tools that are used around the globe by correction facilities to root out these smuggled phones. We have received several reports from customers of large covert sting operations where our cell phone detection tools not only detected and located the cellphones but uncovered a large drug ring as a result. I personally am proud of our PocketHound covert cell detector and Wolfhound Pro cell detector with direction finding antenna knowing they are making correctional facilities safer and saving lives.
The latest addition we introduced to the suite of cell phone detection offerings is our SentryHound cell phone detection portal. This unique system can detect cell phones on a person when they pass through the portal alerting security personal to concealed cell phones, or other ferrous contraband such as ‘shanks’, knives, or guns that threaten lives of staff and inmates. The SentryHound is the only ferrous detector in the world that performs complete body detection and will isolate the specific zone or area of the body where the ferrous contraband is hidden. The closer the ferrous contraband is to the portal poles that brighter the intensity of the illumination in the detection zone. This allows for immediate detection and enforcement saving staff time for lengthy pat downs that can compromise security and safety.
Q: Are you experiencing any effects of the reduction in defense spending or are you anticipating any impact on your business?
A: We fortunately have niche security products for which often get priority during spending cuts much like the ones currently in place. The recent shooting at the Naval base in Washington has ignited an urgent need to ‘beef up’ security at all bases and hence many security groups are reaching out to Berkeley Varitronics and purchasing cell phone detection tools to enforce their No Cell Phone policy. Since many Government SCIFs (Secure Compartment Information Facilities) need to adhere to a no wireless policy to protect classified information they often turn to Berkeley Varitronics for cell phone detection tools such as our WatchHound cell monitor, our Mantis bluetooth analyzer, as well as our latest YellowjacketDF direction finding WiFi security tool. These tools provide security personnel with direction finding capability allowing them to quickly hunt down any wireless security breaches.
Q: Deployment of small cells and distributed antenna systems is increasing rapidly as wireless carriers attempt to provide “broadband wireless data everywhere.” If your company is involved in any portion of the “HetNet” market from components through systems, please give us your thoughts on the opportunities it presents or tell us how you feel this market will develop.
A: Berkeley Varitronics Systems is poised to release our latest test solution which is a multi-band DAS (Distributed Antenna System) signal generator. Carriers and propagation installation teams are focusing more and more on campus wide and/or in-building installations of wireless networks to ‘make our mobile phones’ work indoors and have seamless coverage. The DAS signal generator we have developed is unique in that it takes up to (6) different frequency bands that carriers have licenses in and allows the user to adjust the frequency, output, and combine them so there is a single RF connection to a DAS system. The DAS will re-broadcast the (6) signals throughout the building and they can then perform a walk about study with a collection receiver system that notes the various signal strengths at given X/Y coordinates on a scaled building floor plan. This provides for a extremely accurate floor plan depicting how well the various frequency bands will propagate when they build out the DAS system ultimately. There is no piece of test equipment on the market today that can accomplish this in a single box. With billions of dollars being shifted from the traditional outdoor propagation studies to indoors, we are looking to capitalize and set the bar on a new level of advanced test tools.
Q: China has long been considered the greatest potential global market for many companies in the RF and microwave industry. Do you feel this is still true? Are there other emerging markets that you believe will be lucrative in the next few years?
A: Yes, there is certainly potential there for China to be a microwave dominant power house. The challenge they have is there are many companies such as Berkeley Varitronics that have been designing and manufacturing microwave test equipment for decades. There is tremendous competition and the time to market is crucial when launching a successful product in the microwave industry. The numerous hacking scandals involving the Chinese government planting ‘audio bugs’ in common items to spy on the United States are extremely alarming. Many want nothing to do with Chinese products for fear they could be targeted to have IP (Intellectual Property) stolen without then realizing there is a bug planted in their tea kettle. China has a long way to regain the trust of the global economy and still remain competitive in a niche market such as microwave technology. I think time will tell ultimately but many companies will remain skeptical for now.
Q: What do you believe will be the greatest challenge for the RF and microwave industry in the next few years?
A: Mobile phones are being used everywhere and people are tied to them night and day. The problem is of serious concern when they get behind the wheel of a car, bus, or train and are distracted and risk the lives of pedestrians, other motorists, and passengers. Despite the obvious dangers, drivers/operators continue to text/talk/email on their mobile phones. In the US alone there are 9 fatalities each day attributed to distracted driving. Fines are difficult if not impossible to enforce from a law enforcement perspective.
BVS has been working with both private and public transportation authorities for highway and mass transit safety in an effort to curb distracted operators. Solutions like TransitHound offer a focused attention on the RF that all smartphones transmit. By focusing on the RF in a single area that the driver occupies, TransitHound can take immediate action by sounding local alerts, snapping pictures and even alerting authorities to the illegal and dangerous use of a cell phone by drivers. So instead of drivers defeating software measures, using someone else’s phone or working around the inconvenience of a distracted driving software app, they are detected, alerted and dispatched as violators by integrated cell phone detection systems like TransitHound. By using the right technology now, we can address the dangers.