31/01/18 – SMC Gateway Recently Featured in Land Mobile Magazine

The SMC Gateway recently featured in Land Mobile Magazine, explaining how, with integration to most things, including license free PMR446 radios, the SMC Gateway can help retailers enhance their radio system, whilst also saving time and money.


While retailers have been preparing for the Christmas rush, several companies have been coming up with a number of ways to make their lives easier, as Sam Fenwick discovers

One of the most popular entry points for retailers as far as two-way radio is concerned is PMR446, given that it allows them to benefit from instant one-to-many group calls while being simple, low-cost and licence-free.

“PMR446 is perfect for a lot of retail stores because they don’t need to buy big infrastructure, they don’t need a repeating system, just small, cheap 446s,” says Lawrence Deacon, product support engineer at South Midlands Communications (SMC). “A lot of people are opting for PTT over Cellular to get away from frequency spectrum overload. PMR446 is another good way of doing that.”

With the growing ease at which two-way radios can be connected to IT systems, there is more that can be done with them, and SMC has been working on new features, using a Motorola XT420 PMR446 radio connected to its SMC Gateway, which it will be launching soon.

The company can play audio messages over the PMR446 handset to others in the network, and the audio can be generated in multiple ways, commonly by SMC’s text-to-speech engine and recorded audio stored on the Gateway. To get around the limited capacity given lack of network infrastructure and the absence of dedicated spectrum, SMC uses PTT detection and stores the messages in a buffer – “as soon as the PTT is released from someone else, we can fire the messages [off], but we can queue them indefinitely”, Deacon adds.

Some of the uses include call buttons in fitting rooms that when pressed result in an audio message, based on the button’s location, to alert a member of staff that a customer needs assistance. Alarms can be relayed via audio, either text to speech or pre-recorded, to allow smaller licence-free radios to benefit from alarm notifications. Deacon says it can also be used to alert staff to important emails – those that contain a keyword – by reading out the subject line over the radio.

Another use-case would be to use the system in combination with motion-detection equipment to allow salespeople on a large shop floor to come over when a customer is interested in a particular high-value item, rather than having to stand near it waiting for customers.

“You don’t want someone stood there all day long, but when someone starts looking at a washing machine (for example, starts opening its doors), you might want to send a salesman over there. There’s no reason why a motion sensor couldn’t be set up so that when a customer moves into the area, someone can have a look and then move there to upsell,” Deacon says. And security guards can be alerted if the product is often targeted by shoplifters.