Can we please stop calling it an intercom?


Can we please stop calling it an “Intercom”?

If you’re anything like me, the word “intercom” brings all sorts of memories, often from our younger years.  For me, it’s the scratchy audio at a drive-through, the room-to-room speaker systems our grandparents had in their house. They were always disappointing and frustrating.

In today’s defense industry, we are constantly inundated with acronyms, buzz words, and terms that are seemingly endless and often have two or three different meanings depending on your segment.  Intercom is one of these words.  Its long overdue for us who specialize in this type of product to ask the question; “Can we please stop calling it an “intercom”?

The word “intercom” can no longer convey what these devices are expected to do.

Gone are the days where tactical users on board a vehicle simply needed a device to allow them to talk to other crew members or vehicles.  The volume of data which is generated onboard a modern tactical vehicle is staggering.  Expand that volume of data across a brigade, and it becomes akin to a multi-headed hydra. Video Streams, Text Data, Commands, Command Acknowledgements, Targeting Data, Ballistic Calculations, Database Synchronization, Sensor Information, and finally voice are moving around a battlefield simultaneously. Adding to this volume, are the rules governing the movement of all this data.

Search the web and you’ll find “intercoms” that highlight their fine abilities to manage voice/audio but only in passing mention suggest they have data or BMS/FCS capabilities.  One could almost be forgiven for thinking an “intercom” is just for audio still.

As modern BMS’s (Battlefield Management Systems) and FCS’s (Fire Control Systems) continue to reach new levels of sophistication and fusion between subsystems, “intercom” designers and manufacturers need recognize their place in these ecosystems.  Imagine a centralized device that not only managed internal and external audio, but also had the ability unify and coordinate data flow from sources such as UAV’s, external sensors, RWS (Remote Weapon Stations) whilst providing a centralized hardware interface for BMS’s and FCS’s.

This has been the function of the FONET Product Line since its inception and parallel development with TOPAZICMS.  A hardware platform that pairs perfectly with a BMS/FCS.  A hardware platform that was purpose built not just to provide excellent audio quality, but also become the conductor of a symphony of subsystems where each subsystem wants to be a soloist. A hardware platform with edge/distributed computing capabilities that is purpose built for the demands of modern BMS’s and FCS’s.

And so, we return the question at hand; “Can we stop calling it an intercom?”

We can keep lumping all these devices on the market together as merely “intercoms” or, we can start recognizing that “intercoms” and “Integration Platforms” are two entirely different things.  I’ll leave the clever acronym/portmanteau creation to others for “Integration Platforms”.

In this process of writing this, another question occurred to me that end users should be asking…

“How will your “intercom” make my BMS/FCS better?”



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