This is probably a question that forms on most newcomers lips as they anxiously fondle their smartphone and walk up to the first day on set or stage. “Why use this intercom when I have a phone?” The answer used to be very clear in the past; if you are on a call and a third person needs you, they will find you blocked. You cannot run a show, manage a stage, choreograph an event or coordinate a rocket launch without someone else in the same ‘project’ being able to talk or alert you at any time. This is the classic example of blocking intercom. Other examples exist such as electrical or logical limits as to how many talkers can co-exist on one channel. Or built-in blocking – like only one Push-To-Talk user at a time such as found on 2-way wireless systems or walkie-talkies.
Today this reason, not to use phones, almost always holds true, but what if the intercom was your smartphone? But firstly, what is intercom?
Intercom, or talkback or voice communications, is a talk and listen system based on end-points like beltpacks or rack mounted user key panels and stations, that allow more than 3 people to communicate in real time, in duplex and all at the same time. Duplex here just means you can talk and listen at the same time. Intercom can be very small scale and simple or ingeniously complex, geographically distributed and stylized.
So it’s your first week on the job, they don’t have a beltpack for you but they do have a partyline system that you can join. How? Well Clear-Com has an app! It’s called Agent-IC and you can download it from the Apple Store or Play store. Once the app is loaded the ‘technical bod’ on site will give you the login details to connect over the Wi-Fi system to their Clear-Com LQ box that sits conveniently at the end of their partyline wired intercom system. The LQ box extends the production or intercom to a key on your phone’s screen. Anywhere you are connected you have the audio and can now participate in the intercom chatter. Now you are empowered and the latest recruit to the world of intercom.
The primarily challenges for the Agent-IC virtual intercom is to facilitate the transport of low latency, high definition intercom audio over private or public IP networks without loss of service. For this to work well, we incorporate intelligence within the send, transport and receive mechanisms to ensure a consistent and contiguous playout. In addition, processing and transport efficiency is achieved through a patented routing mechanism which alleviates the overhead relating to mix-send operations. We do not add buffering to align the send packets and only reassemble packets once. The technology in Agent-IC, and other Clear-Com IP connected devices, is called Instant Voice Core which is a patented technology. This is a Clear-Com innovation specifically designed for intercom where latency has to be kept low and use smaller network bandwidths.
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