Innovative radio technology keeps New Zealand’s Firefighters safe

We champion the advancement of communications within the emergency services, not only because it is an important part of their working day, but because they still have a long way to go before it is perfect. This news story comes from New Zealand and focuses on the fire service and is supplied by Motorola themselves.

Firefighters serving with New Zealand Fire Service will benefit from improved safety and communication while working in fire grounds through an innovative two-way radio solution.

The new solution from Motorola Solutions and Spark will enable the service’s 10,000 career and volunteer firefighters to stay connected to their colleagues in the field via reliable and robust voice communication.

Having attended around 73,000 incidents in the past year alone, New Zealand Fire Service needs the best tools for the job. The organisation will receive more than 4,500 new radios designed for use in the most severe fire ground environments.

A major feature of the solution is a cornerstone Motorola Solutions innovation, a remote speaker microphone that will be fully integrated within firefighters’ breathing apparatus. This will be combined with the radio’s convenient push-to-talk button, which enables firefighters to communicate easily and safely in the harshest conditions.

Paul Baxter, Chief Executive & National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service, said,

“Communication is critical to safety on the incident ground, and much of that communication comes from the use of incident ground control (IGC) radio. That’s why we were so exacting in our requirements for these new radios.”

“The radios will help us to resolve radio interface issues with firefighters’ breathing apparatus while also delivering improved noise cancellation and battery life.”

By using a combination of single and multiband radios operating across both VHF and UHF bands, the solution aligns with the fire service’s vision of leading integrated fire and emergency services for a safer New Zealand.

“This radio solution enables us to move away from using a mix of models and frequencies and toward a nationally consistent standard that will make it easier to work with our emergency service partners,” Baxter said.

Murray Mitchell, Director ICT for the New Zealand Fire Service, said, “We wanted a solution that is safe, easy to use and doesn’t distract firefighters from their work during critical incidents.The design features incorporated in these new radios will help our firefighters work more safely and efficiently.”

Spark will provide in-country support including service management and a customer support desk.

Spark Digital CEO Tim Miles said: “Radios are life-saving tools for our emergency services, and great team communication can be the difference between a managed incident and a disaster. We are very proud to play a part in improving the on-ground experience for our Kiwi Fire Service heroes.”

Motorola Solutions Managing Director for New Zealand and Australia Steve Crutchfield said the solution drew on his company’s experience in providing tailored, mission-critical communications for public safety agencies all over the world.

“Firefighters depend on reliable and robust voice communications in emergency situations so they can concentrate on the job of protecting our communities and potentially saving lives,” Crutchfield said.

The radios are part of a five-year contract, giving New Zealand Fire Service operational and cost certainty throughout the life of the contract.

The contract also provides access provisions for related government agencies wanting to take advantage of the new radio technology.


Some people who pre-ordered the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.

The first Oculus headsets were set to arrive in the mail on March 28, but some people who pre-ordered the device are still waiting for their headsets. The company said in an email to some customers it had experienced an “unexpected component shortage, and unfortunately, that issue has impacted the original shipping estimates for some early customers.”

“First set of Rifts are going out slower than we originally estimated, so we’re giving free shipping for all pre-orders, including international,” Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe tweeted on Saturday. Customers have since been tweeting at Iribe asking for answers after not receiving their headsets.

Customers who ordered anytime from the beginning of January until the end of the day, Pacific Time, on April 1 are eligible for a shipping refund, Iribe said. Further updates on shipping progress are expected by April 12. Despite the email to customers, Oculus noted that it is “shipping rifts everyday.”

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey responded to frustrated customers in a Reddit thread, telling them: “Don’t shunt blame to other people, this is my call.”

“I am not going to wax poetic about this, since I have done so in the past, but bottom-line: I won’t give in-depth updates on any situation without knowing it is solid, true, and finalized. Until I can do so, the best I can do is remind people that I will get them information as quickly as I can,” a person writing from a verified account attributed to Luckey said.

Luckey traveled to Anchorage, Alaska, last month to hand deliver the first consumer headset to Ross Martin, an indie developer who has the distinction of being the first customer to pre-order Oculus Rift in January.

There has been plenty of buzz around Oculus and the experiences developers can create, ranging from games to virtual vacations and real estate tours; however, there’s nothing flashy about the Oculus launch this week. The high price tag of $599 — plus the requisite high-performance PC needed to operate the headset — puts Oculus in a price range that makes it still inaccessible to the masses.

The consumer headset ships with a wireless Xbox One controller and adapter to enhance the gaming experience, along with two games: EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale. Pre-orders are currently backed up until July, according to the Oculus website.

Oculus is also working on Oculus Touch, which are wireless controllers that wrap around a player’s hands, allowing intuitive actions in VR feel as though users are working with their real hands — even allowing them to pick up objects in their virtual world.

Martin, who was lucky enough to have his headset delivered, gave ABC News his early review last month.

“Everyone wants to be able to fly or visit the moon, and there’s never been anything quite like this before,” he said.

This years new technology is virtual reality (VR) headsets, stories of VR headsets have been circulating for a few years, and as we understand it 2016 was penciled in for the year of Virtual Reality. So when facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg bought the oculus rift company in 2014 we were expecting this to be the first headset out and when they started taking orders in January this only confirmed what we expected, they have been pipped to the post by Samsung and the gear, then on top of that their orders are running late, but the upside is that they are giving everyone free shipping The Original Source of this article can be found here

Musician sues Royal Opera House over ruined hearing

It is quite a common thing that musicians and artists that are exposed to loud noise, will eventually suffer from hearing damage. We have seen many artists suffer from this career threatening damage, the likes of Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Ozzy Osbourne and the tinnitus that is effecting Chris Martin from Coldplay, this is a problem that many more will be affected by. This article from the BBC talks about Chris Goldscheider and his pursuit of damages over his hearing damage. Rightly or wrongly it’s an interesting tale.

A renowned viola player is suing the Royal Opera House for ruining his hearing and his career during rehearsals of Wagner’s Die Walkure.

Chris Goldscheider claims his hearing was irreversibly damaged by brass instruments put immediately behind him.

The Musicians’ Union says hearing damage is a major problem for musicians playing in orchestras.

The Royal Opera House denies it is responsible, but around a quarter of its players suffer hearing illnesses.

In court documents seen by the BBC, Goldscheider claims that in 2012 his hearing was “irreversibly damaged” during rehearsals of Richard Wagner’s thunderous Die Walkure “from brass instruments placed immediately behind him” in the famous “pit” at the Royal Opera House.

The sound peaked at around 137 decibels, which is roughly the sound of a jet engine. The court documents say the noise “created an immediate and permanent traumatic threshold shift”.

Image captionChris Goldscheider played the viola with some of the world’s greatest orchestras

Goldscheider says this amounts to “acoustic shock”, one effect of which is that the brain hugely amplifies ordinary sounds.

Music has been in most of Goldscheider’s life: “For the last quarter of a century I’ve been a professional musician. Music was my income. It was my everything,” he says.

The son of a composer, from the age of 10 he spent in excess of six hours a day practising and rehearsing. He played the viola with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras, before joining the prestigious Royal Opera House orchestra in 2002.

Career highlights have included performing live with the famous Three Tenors to 100,000 people at the Barcelona Camp Nou football stadium, and with Kylie Minogue on MTV. He has also recorded with artists including the band 10cc.

Goldscheider says the effects of the hearing damage have been devastating.

“Ordinary sounds like banging cups and glasses together is a very painful noise,” he says.

“My newborn daughter last year was crying so much I actually got noise-induced vertigo because of my injury and I ended up in bed for three weeks.”

The musician says he has lost the career he loved and his mental health has deteriorated as he struggles to cope with the impact and effects of his hearing problems.

Life has changed dramatically. To carry out ordinary every day tasks such as preparing food, Chris has to wear ear protectors. Especially upsetting is that he had been unable to listen to his 18-year-old son Ben – one of the country’s outstanding young French horn players.

“Ben is a fantastic musician. I haven’t been able to listen to him play or practice since my injury. I’ve missed him playing concerts and winning competitions. I can’t even bear him practising in an upstairs room when I am downstairs in the house,” he says.

musician has to wear ear protectors to carry out every day tasks

At the time of his injury, Goldscheider was provided with hearing protection capable of reducing the noise by up to 28 decibels, but his lawyers claim this was insufficient. They say he was not given enough training in how to use it and protect himself, and that the noise levels should not have been so dangerously high.

The Royal Opera House does not accept the rehearsal noise caused Goldscheider’s injury, and denies that is responsible.

In a statement it told the BBC: “Mr Goldscheider’s compensation claim against the Royal Opera House is a complex medico-legal issue, which has been going on for some time and is still under investigation.

“All sides are keen to reach a resolution. The matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, and in the circumstances it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

And according to Goldscheider’s solicitor Chris Fry, part of the Royal Opera House’s defence breaks new legal ground.

“Essentially what is being said is that the beautiful artistic output justifies damaging the hearing of the musicians performing it,” he says.

“That’s never been tested by the courts. We don’t think the court is likely to uphold that, in particular where it’s clear steps could be taken to maintain the beautiful sound and protect hearing at the same time.”

he Royal Opera House denies it is responsible for Chris Goldscheider’s hearing issue

Hearing damage suffered by rock musicians is well documented. Years ago The Who’s Pete Townsend went public about his hearing loss and famously said a doctor had told him: “You’re not actually going deaf, but I’d advise you to learn to lip read.”

Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne have also been affected. But what is far less well known is that it is a significant problem in the more sedate and sophisticated world of classical music.

There are around 100 players in the orchestra at the Royal Opera House. The BBC has learnt more than a quarter report occasional or mild hearing illness, and that in the 2013/14 season, there were seven cases of sickness absence related to noise problems and a total of 117 weeks of sick leave taken. That’s not music to anyone’s ears.

Morris Stemp of the Musicians Union says there are many reasons for the hearing damage suffered by classical musicians.

“Conductors are allowed to ride roughshod over health and safety considerations,” he says. “They put players on the stage where they will be in harm’s way. And instruments are now louder than they ever were before because of the materials they are now made from.”

Add to that the increased number of live concerts prompted in part by the drop in income from CD sales, and there is a mix of elements that can put the hearing of orchestra players at serious risk.

Chris Goldscheider’s case casts light on a little known or discussed problem, and will be watched closely by all those in the classical music world.


Innovative radio solution protects and preserves Chinese forests

We all know how important radio communications are, and Motorola Solutions have captured a massive coup by providing the radios for protecting the Chinese forests, a feather in the cap for Motorola because Hytera, their biggest competitor at the moment, originating from china, interesting! We found this article on this website.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) with its channel partner Beijing Dyne Rcomm Technology are helping to keep China’s Hunan forestry region safe with a MOTOTRBO digital radio system that increases safety and security for employees while helping them to work more efficiently.

China’s Hunan province is rich in flora and fauna resources that are essential to the region’s economy. However, these vast areas which make up around 60 percent of the province’s total surface area can be risky places to work for forest rangers. Forest workers depend on reliable communications to be aware of potential bushfire risks and other emergencies.

The innovative radio system integrates MOTOTRBO digital two-way radios and repeaters, a dispatch console for centralised control and monitoring of the network at all times and Motorola Solutions’ IP Site Connect digital solution to extend radio network coverage over the internet throughout the counties and cities.

“Rangers depend on access to clear and reliable communications. They need to stay constantly connected to their colleagues working in control rooms who have visibility of the entire operation and can help to keep them safe at all times,” said Michael Jiang, China President and Country Manager, Motorola Solutions.

“It’s absolutely essential for forest rangers to know where their co-workers and resources are at all times, especially in times of emergency.

“Hunan’s new radio network provides extensive coverage throughout the region, enabling rangers working across a wide geographic area to report the very first signs of fire so that resources can be deployed quickly and effectively to protect lives and natural resources,” Mr Jiang said.

Hunan’s integrated system connects the surrounding cities and counties through clear voice communications enhanced with noise cancelling features that perform reliably in the nosiest environments. This system also supports data transfer across the radio network, using GPS to pinpoint the location of nearby team members and resources in emergency situations, while text messages and automatic alerts can be sent between the province’s central control room and radio users in the field.

Motorola Solutions has now deployed more than 5,000 radios to major forestry projects across greater China at locations including the Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Liaoning, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces.

World Radio Day focuses on role of radio in disaster management

World Radio Day on 13 February brings attention to the role of radio in managing disasters and recovery in their aftermath.

Radio is recognized as a low-cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and is especially effective in reaching people affected by disasters when other means of communication are disrupted. Terrestrial radio broadcasts are effective in providing timely, relevant and practical information to people who are confused and demoralised by the impact of a crisis. Broadcast information is particularly useful in situations where physical access is difficult and aid responders may take several days or weeks to reach affected communities.

Recent natural and man-made disasters are a major cause for concern to the global community. “In times of crisis and emergency, radio can be a lifeline,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “For people in shattered societies, or caught in catastrophe, or desperately seeking news, radio brings lifesaving information. This year, as we start carrying out the Sustainable Development Goals, let us resolve to use radio for human progress. On this World Radio Day, let us resolve to prove that radio saves lives.”

“Radiocommunication is indispensable in saving lives in the event of a natural disaster,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Collaborating and sharing experiences is critical in order to support national and regional preparedness, and ITU is deeply committed to facilitating rapid and effective response in emergencies.”

“Amidst the ruins and in the face of an emergency, the radio is often the first medium for survival,” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “Its durability is an incomparable advantage, often enabling it to resist shocks and re-transmit messages of protection and prevention to as many people as possible, better and faster than other media, saving lives.”

New developments in radio technology and in the transmission and delivery of radio content, especially through mobile devices and through on-demand media platforms, further extend the means to engage disaster-affected communities. These digital innovations are increasingly important in delivering effective disaster preparedness and prevention, while reinforcing the importance of community radio services.

ITU has developed a number of standards for effective emergency radiocommunications, recognizing that direct communication via radio helps reduce the sense of isolation and helplessness experienced by crisis-affected communities. Recommendation ITU-R BT.1774-2 is the standard that relates to emergency warning systems for analogue broadcasting, which facilitates the use of satellite and terrestrial broadcast infrastructures for public warning, disaster mitigation and relief.

In addition, the 2015 ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) identified spectrum to facilitate mobile broadband communications for robust and reliable mission-critical emergency services in public protection and disaster relief (PPDR), such as police, fire, ambulances and disaster response teams. WRC-15 also reinforced protection to search and rescue beacons to uplink to satellites, such as the Cospas-Sarsat system, which has assisted in rescuing over 37,000 people worldwide since December 2013.

World Radio Day marks the anniversary of the first broadcast by UN Radio in 1946, when it transmitted its first call sign: “This is the United Nations calling the peoples of the world.” Ever since, UN Radio broadcasts have highlighted the principles of the United Nations to foster world peace and development. World Radio Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of radio, facilitate access to information through radio, and enhance networking among broadcasters.

– See more at:

Can Two Way Radios of Different Brands Work Together

One question that is frequently asked by people interested in buying two way radios is that can you mix brands of two way radios. To answer this question properly, it is imperative to understand first how the devices work. It should be known that whether you have a small business or a large warehousing facility, UHF band radios never communicate with the VHF band radios. Therefore, if you are looking to buy a radio, make sure to buy additional units of the device of similar bands. In this way be it a UHF band radio or a VHF band radio, if set to the same frequency can work with all brands. However, some considerations have to be put in its place beforehand.


Two way radios imply that it can both send as well as receive radio messages. They are transceivers that are battery powered. The radios operate on a half-duplex channel system. This system implies that the radio will be able to transmit a signal on a single channel that can be received on many devices at the same time. Normally these radios are designed to transmit short-range signals. Almost all of the two way radios function on the same principle. They all include a microphone, an antenna, a speaker, and the Push to talk Button. These radios are designed to function on different frequencies.

Frequency types

The general public use frequencies are the Family radio service frequency or the FRS and the general Mobile radio Service frequency or GMRS. Both these frequencies work on a 460 MHz rage. The UHF frequency or the ultra-high frequency is ideal for the two way radios as they can easily penetrate the interference in the form of building and trees. The two way radio with a long UHF antenna will push through the concrete and will do your work efficiently. On the other hand, VHF antennas on the radios are much longer than the ones in the UHF radios. These are ideal to use in the outdoors as they usually can transmit signals over very large distances.

Types of radios

There are normally two types of radios, that are used in businesses and that are used in consumer situations. The consumer radios normally work on the FRS or the GMRS frequencies. Regardless of the number of channels in the radio, the two way radios can be mixed with other brand radios. Only the radios have to be set to the same privacy code, the channel number, and the same frequency. Alternatively, there are several different types of frequency in the business two way radios category . The radios use the UHF, VHF and the 800/900 MHz type frequency. Just by choosing, the radio with the same frequency may not be compatible with the radios of other brands bought beforehand. While buying the radio, the dealer may have programmed a special customized frequency into the radio beforehand. In order for the business, two way radios to work efficiently with the radios of different brands it is essential to completely figure the type of band that the radio uses, the pre-set frequency on the radio from the dealer.

Can you hear radio broadcasts through your teeth?

Do you mean me specifically? If so, then the answer is ‘no’ I’m afraid. I must also say that given the state of pop music these days, I’m actually very glad of it!

So…Awkward question time: are you hearing radio broadcasts through your teeth mate?

Lol. Just kidding.

Whilst it sounds like utter nonsense, there have actually been quite a few reported cases of people ‘picking up’ radio broadcasts through their fillings/dental caps over the years.

Our oft-quoted friend Cecil Adams, of The Straight, actually answered this question back in 1992. In his answer, Adams highlighted two particularly interesting case studies. I’ll reprint them here, along with a link to the site in question.

Case #1. George, of suburban Chicago, lost a front tooth at the age of 12. A year or so later, in about 1961, he was fitted with a cap that was attached to the tooth stump with what George recalls as a brass wire. Thereafter he began hearing music in his head, generally popular tunes of the day, usually while he was outdoors. The music was soft but distinct. He never heard an announcer’s voice or commercials and was unable to identify what radio station, if any, he was hearing. After a year or two of this a new dentist put in a cap without a wire and the tunes stopped.

Case #2. Lois, also of suburban Chicago, says it happened just once, in 1947, while she was riding a train from her home in Cleveland to college in Rhode Island at about age 18. The experience lasted maybe 10 minutes. She couldn’t tell what station she was listening to but recalls hearing commercials and an announcer’s voice. She has silver tooth fillings but doesn’t recall if she’d had one put in just before the event.

Actress Lucille Ball even claimed to have helped the allies by intercepting radio signals in this, frankly rather bizarre, way. This story is widely re-told and was even used as part of the plot of the musical ‘Something For The Boys’.

Adams goes on to mention a piece on about the incident, which appears to feature the testimony of the actress herself, who says,

“One night I came into the valley over Coldwater Canyon, and I heard music. I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept getting louder and louder and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat and I thought I was losing my mind”

According to the Snopes account, after she related this strange story to Buster Keaton, he told her that it had happened to a friend of his.

If you’re interested, here’s Lucille’s account of ‘catching’ the Japanese spies, which allegedly transpired about a week later.

“All of a sudden, my mouth started jumping. It wasn’t music this time, it was Morse code. It started softly and then DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in at full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE! I tell you, I got the hell out of there real quick. The next day, I told the MGM security office about it, and they called the FBI or something and sure enough, they found an underground Japanese radio station. It was somebody’s gardener, but sure enough, they were spies”

As entertaining as Lucille’s story is, Snopes could find no record of the event, which surely would have been heavily featured in the local, if not the national, news. A cover-up to prevent mass panic? Personally, I don’t think so, as Snopes goes on to mention a Japanese submarine being spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara on February 23rd 1942, which was obviously an extensively covered event.

A discussion on Skeptics Stack uncovers another major flaw in this story (and all others like it). The users suggest (rightly) that any radio signal must first be demodulated in order to make any sense at all. As far as I know, dental fillings have no demodulation circuits.

So, is it possible or not?

Probably not. A demodulation circuit is not and has never been a part of a dental filling’s mix-up.

There is some compelling ‘evidence’ out there, as well as a couple of cases that have been looked into somewhat scientifically and featured in various respected journals, but then again, according to certain statistics, 3.7 million Americans have been abducted by aliens. That alarming statistic, in and of itself, ought to be enough to make you skeptical of anything.

ever wondered what different types of Bluetooth earpieces there are

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum

“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”