Bringing wireless connectivity to radio communications

When Harris Corporation, one of the largest technology companies in the USA, went looking for a partner to add a Wireless Personal Area Network to their highly success Harris RF-7850S radio, it found the solution in Melbourne, Australia. Clarinox Technologies is an innovative specialist in the development and integration of wireless embedded systems. The partnership between Harris and Clarinox resulted in a market changing radio capability.

In 2014, the Harris RF-7580S radio was the ultimate integration of radio, edge device, GPS and application software in a single platform. It provided superior connectivity for soldiers and enhanced the sharing of information through the command chain as well as supporting assets such as helicopters and UAVs. However, Harris recognised the product could be improved further by significantly reducing cumbersome cables through wirelessly networking numerous end-user devices. This enhancement would significantly increase operational effectiveness for users.

Although the strategy to add a wireless personal area network (WPAN) communication capability to the existing RF-7850S radio was straightforward, the execution was not. Harris approached a number of leading technology specialists in the US, searching for a wireless solution which would fit within the very limited available footprint of the product. The challenge proved to be beyond some of the biggest names in the industry. Eventually, Harris was referred to a company with a reputation for developing innovative and leadingedge solutions in wireless embedded systems, on the other side of the world – Clarinox Technologies, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Clarinox took on the challenge, and a productive partnership with Harris was formed. The project was extremely challenging from the outset, requiring more than 12 months of technical planning and management of the necessary ITAR and other export restrictions. The biggest obstacle, however, was the technical challenge presented by trying to fit significant functionality in a much smaller than needed footprint. This challenge required careful consideration and innovative solutions to both hardware and software. The Harris team, based in Rochester, New York, and the Clarinox team based in Melbourne, Australia, collaborated through the many complex challenges encountered across the life of the project. The ultimate success of this endeavour is a testament to the great skill, enthusiasm and dedication of both teams, working together across continents and time zones.

The success of the Harris and Clarinox team created a world-leading capability, and to date, there is no other radio that combines wireless networking and intra-team radio communication like the RF-7850S WPAN radio. The system has received excellent reviews from users and Defence has indicated an interest during the Army Innovation Day 2018 with potential linkages to future Army requirements.

The dynamic collaboration between Harris Defence Australia and Clarinox is an example of the exciting growth of the Australian Defence Industry’s content and capability, and the world-class innovation and tenacity on Australian shores. Encouraging, promoting and supporting such partnerships will continue to bring local talent to the attention of the world, and provide a significant enhancement to Australia’s Defence capability.

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