Israel's hand in your next speeding ticket: Mobile R&D at Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions Israel is developing kit for law enforcement and rescue workers using LTE, and it's hoping the tech it's developing will go on to be used in new industries
Written by David Shamah, Contributor

Motorola Solutions was forged from the separation of Motorola into two separate companies back in 2011, while its twin, Motorola Mobility, packed up its patents and went onto become part of Google.

But there are more differences between the Motorolas than their respective ownership. For one, Motorola Solutions doesn't make mobile devices for the consumer market, it makes communication devices and develops technologies for homeland security and first responders, such as emergency medical workers and firefighters.

Secondly, Motorola Solutions has a very significant presence in Israel - so significant, in fact, that the Israel operation has a hand in almost everything Motorola Solutions is producing today, including the "ambulances and police cars of the future", according to Avi Tooba, director of the Motorola Solutions Israel Design Center.

The tech that will serve those vehicles is LTE (long term evolution), which Motorola Solutions in general, and the Israel branch of the company in particular, are focusing on. In Israel, 550 engineers are building devices that will allow responders to use both public mobile networks as well as the newly-allocated 4G LTE spectrum set aside for public safety agencies.

Public and private networks

It's a scenario that Motorola Solutions Israel's LEX 700 is designed for. "[It's] a handheld device that includes nearly all communication protocols rescue workers and responders rely on – public 3G networks and the 4G LTE spectrum set aside for safety agencies with automatic roaming, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS, fully ruggedised for use under the harshest conditions, and all the features of a smartphone, including voice and video recording, one touch communications, and even the ability to connect to printers." Design was a major challenge for the LEX 700, Tooba said, due to the array of components that had to be miniaturised and fit into a very limited space.

Motorola Solutions' Avi Tooba
Motorola Solutions' Avi Tooba with a LEX 700

Motorola Solutions is developing a family of devices based on the technology used in the LEX 700. If a cop using one of the devices stops you for speeding, they'll instantly be able to communicate to a database and draw up your records, record video catching you in the act, tell you how fast you were going using GPS applications, and even print out a ticket, while you wait.

Unlike many handset makers, Motorola Solutions hasn't got its sights set on Apple: Tooba said that there are absolutely no plans for Motorola Solutions to produce an "iPhone killer", but the company is looking at where it can take its tech next.

"We are developing solutions for other industries based on the LEX 700 technology," Tooba said, with oil rig workers, for example, likely to appreciate a device that could withstand temperatures far harsher than the zero to 40C range that most consumer smartphones are built to withstand.

Motorola's history

Today, Motorola Solutions has about 1,400 employees in Israel, out of a global workforce of 21,000, and has a long history in the country. Motorola Inc, as it was known back then, has the honour of being the first American company to set up shop in Israel, in 1948. It went on to set up its own R&D lab in Israel in 1964, long before any other multinational got the idea. It was Motorola's first foray outside the US, as well.

Motorola Ventures, the investment arm of Motorola Solutions, does all its work of finding compatible start-ups to invest in from the US - except for its representative in Israel, who has an office at Motorola Solutions Israel outside Tel Aviv.

Technologies coming out of Israel, said Tooba, will be built into devices that will go into the next generation of police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and security vehicles.

"All this is being developed in whole or part at our Israel labs," Tooba said. "We get to work on the products at the very earliest stages, from concept and design, and follow through until they are completed."

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