A British fireman has come up with a way of interrupting car stereo signals to warn drivers of approaching emergency vehicles.
New Scientist magazine reports that fireman James Hutchison developed the system. It warns drivers that an emergency vehicle is approaching before they hear its siren, by cutting in on their radios and CD players.
Called the Warn-Tone, it transmits a spoken message to drivers.
But it may fall foul of the Radio Authority (RA), which is concerned with how far the signal will spread.
Hutchison said that only vehicles up to 100 metres ahead of the device should be affected. But Mark Thomas, head of engineering at the Radio Authority, the body that licenses radio frequencies in the UK, disagrees.
"For a variety of reasons, notably interference with radio receivers over a radius of several kilometres, the whole concept is logically flawed," Thomas said.
The device scans the seven strongest radio signals in an area through which the emergency vehicle is travelling. It then broadcasts a warning tone on each frequency in turn, cycling once a minute.
It also uses an alarm function - part of the standard Radio Data System - to interrupt cassettes and CDs. But the Radio Authority remains unconvinced, citing its knowledge of the way radio waves propagate over long distances. "There's no point in allowing these tests, because we know what the results will be," Thomas said.
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