Talk-A-Phone systems' IP and traditional communication units have been used for the Department of Defense and homeland security applications. While Talk-A-Phone's ETP product can be established easily on any traditional system and converted to IP, it does not offer VOIP. What it can do, if integrated with video, is use the PC as an additional source of communication. Since the connection is IP, a computer can use a pop-up window application when an intercom is activated. When a guard or security monitoring station gets a call, the pop-up window will show visually the source of the call.
The IP-EWST, Aiphone's first generation of intercom systems that use IP infrastructure, launched nearly two years ago. Since then, the company has also developed its AN-8000 series. This system, like most others, is scalable and can accommodate as many as 1,280 master and door stations. It does not require any equipment other than software loaded onto a PC, so there are no challenges to finding desk space. The system is easily programmed and can be accessed on any PC by an acknowledged user who can navigate access control from thousands of miles away. VoIP is available on the AN-8000, and voice can be communicated over the PC.
An IP-based system is not without its challenges. LANs and WANs have come a long way to being more reliable. Still, if a network fails, often so too does the IP-based intercom's function. Since businesses now rely so heavily on their networks, most will connect to secondary power sources in case there is an outage or inclement weather.
“[A reliable network] is essential to corporate life,” said S2's Moss, who believes that putting more money into improving a network is a far better option than opting out of IP-based intercoms.
Still, Tim Bloedel of Aiphone has seen the demand for products pick up. The use of intercoms may also begin to see diverse applications such as IP-based systems not only offer increased flexibility, but cost-efficiency and some pretty cool bells and whistles. Communicating and controlling access to facilities from any location without the need for extensive construction is also an attractive component to the new systems.