Wireless products are in the mainstream. Wireless, hands-free, and remote control capabilities are a way of life—one consumers know and expect.

Early launches into wireless were faulty. Wireless systems got a bad rap and were thought to be unreliable and false-alarm prone. In many applications, the installer just couldn’t risk deploying a so-called temperamental wireless device.

Meanwhile, manufacturers have pursued perfection, continuing to refine products. Wireless systems and sensors are technologically superior and more reliable than ever, using advanced microprocessor sensing and other radio frequency technologies. In addition, new features make wireless easier than ever to install, not to mention time and labor efficient, because each sensor does not have to be hardwired to a central control.

Think about the possibilities for wireless applications:

* A customer with a large gated facility that doesn’t want the time and expense of running wires, or, with a remote facility that needs protection.

* An Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -compliant facility that requires a hands-free control switch.

* A large commercial facility where aesthetics come first, followed by a “no drills” rule.

* A residential customer who also shuns wires and wants to be able to control system status and other features, such as lighting, via the safety and convenience of a telephone or other remote control device.

This is the face of wireless today, with new applications emerging from state-of-the-art technology.

“There’s been tremendous technological growth in wireless technology in the past five to seven years,” said Chad Luker, Linear Corp. product manager, radio and access control systems, Carlsbad, Calif. “Reliability has gone up and microprocessor technology in transmitters has improved dramatically. Batteries, too, have a longer life.”

The new emphasis on wireless and the ability to control functions remotely, such as arming and disarming systems, turning on or off lights, etc., has propelled the product genre into new and exciting applications. Hands-free or wireless is increasingly useful for wheelchair accessibility, conveyor systems, and switching controls, such as gates.

Smarts and supervision

As with other low-voltage products, such as sensors and closed-circuit television (CCTV), wireless has become miniaturized. For example, Linear recently introduced the AP-3 Access Controller, a wireless access control system that can be used to remotely activate gate operators, door strikes, or door operators. The device is half the size of its former counterparts and is ideal for gated communities, parking facilities, and industrial sites. The controller has a built-in radio receiver with a 250-foot range that can be extended with an accessory part. Easy-to-program individual transmitters are added, suspended, or deleted through the AP-3’s programming mode using the front keypad. There are no transmitter dip switches to set. Program data is stored in a nonvolatile electronic erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM), where retention is in excess of 10 years, even in the event of a power failure.

Supervision credibility contributes to wireless’s ability to work so well for so many. For example, in the Linear product, the AP-3 looks for an hourly status transmission from the transmitter to report on functionality, battery condition, and case integrity. These features are prevalent in other wireless systems on the market.

Options and capabilities abound for wireless controls. For the customer who wants to check system status remotely—the sky’s the limit. In fact, there’s even remote voice control in a small wireless package.

The touch of a button allows multiple operations in the 5804BDV Bi-Directional Remote Control from The Ademco Group, Syosset, N.Y. Small enough to fit in the palm or a pocket, the portable remote control device can actually speak to the user, providing system status feedback in English. Users can arm and disarm the security system, confirm status of controls in and around the office or home, and operate lights and appliances.

In applications you may have never imagined, wireless emerges. And, technology use is not restricted to access control and security. Wireless video is also among the latest low-voltage products.

Systems integrators looking for a complete CCTV solution in wireless have product options. “There’s widespread use of video, and when existing structures don’t allow users to route cable cost-effectively, wireless is the way to go,” said Mark Cranmore, Trango Systems Inc. sales and marketing manager, San Diego. “You can handle a variety of functions remotely, all through the computer, without digging a trench and running cable.”

The Falcon PLUS series of wireless video from Trango operates in the unlicensed 5.8 GHz ISM band and can handle a seven-mile range with proper receiver antenna selection in a line-of-sight configuration. It features 12 separate channels, making it ideal for multi-camera installations, such as parking lots or car dealerships.

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications Inc. in Chicago. She specializes in the security market and can be reached at (773) 775-1816 or domara@flash.net.