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Intelligent extension

Company telephone gains an advanced system of automation

eduardo cesarIndependent modules for each extensioneduardo cesar

The São Paulo company Conceito has developed a technology that is going to mainly serve the company telephone, in the distribution of extension telephone lines that act in an independent manner one from the other, as well as controlling systems of a building’s automation. These are functions carried out by means of telephone modules distributed in the environment and connected to each extension. In this manner, as well as acting as a PABX modular and distributor, such a private telephone system forecasts interaction with any device that makes up part of the automation system of intelligent buildings. Thus, on dialing the number of a telephone, at any place inside or out with the company, it is possible to switch on the air conditioning, open doors and windows and, by way of sensors, even discover if there is anybody walking about inside.

The new system was baptized as Distributed Intelligent Modular Telephone (DIMT) and has modules that carry out the work in an independent manner from the commutation carried out by the PABX system. In order to carry out all of the functions, the extensions are connected into each other and to the Local Operating Network (LonWorks), which carries out the building’s automation, sharing the same physical means, such as the pairs of  wires, for example. The idea to develop ‘intelligent telephones’ came about when the company’s project’s coordinator, a project financed through FAPESP’s Small Business Innovative Research (PIPE) program, the physicist Miguel dos Santos Alves Filho, was developing sensors with distributed intelligence for truck weighing balances used on the highways since 1991. Since then he began to ask if he couldn’t manage to manufacture a PABX in a distributed form in the same mode as he had done with the balance sensors.

The conventional system is composed of a Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX), and works in a centralized manner. It works by way of a central apparatus that administers the company extensions, making the calls to the public telephone center by way of at least two trunk lines and five extensions. Depending upon its interest, the company can purchase more trunk lines and put in more extensions. The problem is that micro and small companies end up having unused extensions, whilst the large companies need to deal with a structure of connections that is very complex and has lots of wires.

The simplicity of the DIMT system lies in its nucleus, called module controller, which possesses a microprocessor of information denoted Neuron Chip, developed by the American company Echelon, as well as a transceiver, a device that has the function of guaranteeing access to the building’s communication network. Because he’s dealing with a modular technology, the client can acquire the modules at the level of his interest and necessity, always considering the cost of what he is truly going to use.

From the technology developed, which is in the form of a prototype and therefore still not commercially available, the company produced and put on the market the Logphone. Connected to the telephone and to a computer, it monitors all of the incoming calls, records conversations, registers the duration, gives the number of whoever rang and if the telephone was busy. The device is applied in an independent manner to each extension and each unit costs R$ 100.

The company is also working to place on the market the Audible Response Module (ARM) that carries out the service of personalized call waiting system on each extension and automatic response, normally used by telemarketing companies. This work can be done by the PABX, but depends on a greater and more expensive structure: an audible response module for recording and decoding the conversation, as well as a computer for storing the programmed locutions. As the use of a PABX predominates in Brazil, the group is developing the ARM that will have analogue and digital entrances. “This is a manner of entering into the market little by little”, explains Alves Filho.

The group also intends to produce the Gate Keeper Module (GKM) for interlinking telephones and computers into a network, thus amplifying the communication system. The difference of this system when compared with the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), which makes possible telephone calls in a network, is the sending of synchronized information and good voice quality. With the VOIP the information, or ‘voice packets’, which they transmit by internet, suffer from lateness and variation in the emission order, resulting in a deficient communication. “The new system eliminates communication loss of  packages and improves the quality of the call via the internet”, explained the physicist.

For Alves Filho, the fact of entering into the market is not sufficient for the new technology to be disseminated. He wants to spread the new system within the academic world. “It’s important to form groups of studies about automation because there’s no point in creating a technology and placing it on the market without the existence of trained professionals who can work with it”, he explains. It is for this reason that the knowledge produced by physicist Alves Filho is also in use at the Polytechnic School of the University of Sao Paulo (USP) by the Virtual Network Center of Ecosystem Services (ViNCES), a consortium of laboratories that makes use of distance control and automation apparatus for collecting research data in the area of ecology.

The Project
Control networks with intelligence devices distributed in communication and automation interfaces (nº 01/03449-1); Modality Small Business Innovation Research Program (PIPE); Coordinator Miguel dos Santos Alves Filho – Conceito; Investment R$ 173,520.37 (FAPESP)