Six million auto accidents in the United States each year result in over 40,000 deaths and two million permanent injuries. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if only someone had called 911 sooner, or if the caller could have provided more accurate information to dispatchers. Texas-based Guardity Technologies manufactures an automatic crash notification device (ACN) called AngelGuard that they hope will greatly reduce these numbers.
Technology makes a difference in a crisis
Guardity’s AngelGuard is a miniature device that plugs in under the dashboard of a vehicle and incorporates sophisticated sensors and advanced intelligence to accurately detect a crash. Through voice communication with 911 services, it helps 911 assess probable injuries. In the case of an accident, this intelligent M2M black box makes an immediate call directly to 911 using the nearest cellular network and automatically transmits critical crash details and location directly to the computer screen of the nearest 911 dispatcher.
The technology under the hood
The secret sauce behind AngelGuard is its built-in intelligence — this ACN solution not only detects a crash, but it analyzes the crash and calculates the probability of occupant injury. It intelligently determines if a call to 911 is needed, immediately places the call and automatically sends the dispatcher all the critical accident details.
In order to provide the correct triangulation of location coupled with a reliable, consistent connection to the T-Mobile Network, AngelGuard needed to incorporate a highly efficient antenna in order to provide nationwide 911 connectivity and link occupants directly with emergency services in a crisis situation. There was zero tolerance for error.
“I trust them and they have the best technical competence in antenna design that’s out there in the market. They know what they are talking about and just get the job done” — Joe Mader, President, Guardity
Guardity President Joe Mader said his team began designing the product in 2011 and early on, they started to work with a design services firm on antenna options before they got into the heavy lifting of designing the electronics. “We wanted to make sure we were prepared for certification from day one,” commented Mader. “When our product housing was ready, we went back to the design services firm in December 2012 to fit the antenna. We were shocked to find out that not only had they made no progress, but they couldn’t supply us with any antenna that would work in the design. We thought we were months away from a production launch and suddenly everything had blown up in our face.”
Working with Taoglas
Presented with this grim situation, Guardity needed to quickly find new assistance in helping the company certify AngelGuard successfully on the cellular networks. It was then that Mader was introduced to Taoglas, whose off-the-shelf antenna Guardity had previously used. That antenna offered very good quality with great performance, so Mader decided to give Taoglas a call.
“I was instantly impressed with Taoglas,” noted Mader. “I was connected immediately with the founder and director of Taoglas, Dermot O’Shea, and he lost no time getting to the bottom of the situation. He took a look at the hardware and system and made some frank suggestions. As President, I like people to be open with me and give me the lay of the land. Dermot was brutally honest with me. He was direct in telling me what was going on. As the relationship developed, if he saw a problem on the horizon, he told us straight away and helped us avert another potential crisis.”
Teamwork from Taoglas
Guardity decided to work with Taoglas. The project was handed over to the Taoglas team, who did a thorough review. Manveer Brar, antenna design engineer at Taoglas, remembers the job well. “The product had many challenges,” she recalled. “While a vertical PCB antenna would have been the most ideal choice, Guardity had built all the molds and dies, costing thousands of dollars. Added to this, the antenna had to be housed in a small form factor of 1.8″ × 2.9″ × 1″ with little clearance between the PCB and the antenna.” The Taoglas solution was a custom GSM antenna, the MPA.11A, which operated on 850, 900, 1800 and 1900 MHz frequencies and delivered over 50% efficiency performance in passive tests on the higher bands.
The AngelGuard also transmits location to the 911 dispatcher’s terminal. Mader commented, “Here again, we were very pleased with the performance of a Taoglas GPS antenna. We originally planned to use another antenna design by another automotive antenna manufacturer. However, Taoglas immediately verified the problems with this earlier concept and helped us design an entirely new GPS antenna implementation.”
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
Now that the antenna was fixed and ready to go, pre PTCRB certification tests — mainly RSE (Radiated Spurious Emission) testing — were done. The tests on the low band showed no problems, but the high band tests showed a noise spur, which would result in a failure at that point. Guardity set to work on the AngelGuard, the spike was fixed and AngelGuard was resubmitted for pretest. However, the subsequent pretest showed that while the changes made to fix the spur worked, the alterations had caused new issues on the lower frequencies.
Mader went back to Taoglas. This challenge was now handed over to Carlos Montoya, noise control engineer at Taoglas, to go through design reviews and see if there were any other issues lurking out there. “The noise control service at Taoglas was over a year in operation at that stage,” commented Montoya. “We gave the device a thorough review and made a number of recommendations and changes that Guardity would need to carry out.” Once these recommendations were adopted, AngelGuard was ready for the official PTCRB tests. This time, it sailed through PTCRB pretests and passed without a problem!
A perfect ending
“It was a relief,” said Mader. “Today, in 2014, as we speak, the product has now finished rolling off the assembly line and we are in trial with a large number of fleets. The product is available for purchase and we are seeing interest and orders coming in already. Everything has worked out for the best.”
Taoglas made a difference
When asked what impressed him about Taoglas, Mader said that from the moment he made the first call to the Taoglas office, office manager Catherine Cusack was instantly responsive and had Dermot on the phone within minutes. No time was lost. &lldquo;They understood how critical the situation was and immediately looked at the hardware, the systems and gave me a thorough review. Their speed and thoroughness was impressive,” noted Mader. The entire team — from Dermot to the engineers and office staff — all took a personal interest in making sure we succeeded,” said Mader.
“During the process, whenever we had an issue, Dermot would get on the phone and immediately start making phone calls for us and tracking down parts of the rules of certification. Taoglas was very, very helpful. I trust them and they have the best technical competence in antenna design that’s out there in the market. They know what they are talking about and just get the job done.”
Working with Taoglas again
“I truly view Taoglas as a design partner and absolutely intend to engage them for new products down the road. There’s no doubt in my mind that they are top class. My strong appreciation goes to Dermot and his team, ” said Mader. “For our next product, I plan on flying out there and working with Dermot and Manveer before I do the first schematic. I’ll be using them as a design partner from day one.”