High levels of EMF/RF radiation can pose dangers to climbers servicing towers and others in high-risk environments. Microwave Vision Group’s (MVG) EME guard technology has successfully protected technicians and others for the past 15 years with the EME Guard portfolio of personal RF safety monitors. Integrating customer feedback, MVG has designed and released the next generation, the new EME Guard Plus, which is lighter, easier to use, and has a more competitive price point than its predecessor.
MVG offers the telecom industry cutting edge technology for the visualization of electromagnetic waves. They offer a suite of connectivity measurement systems, including applications such as base-station antenna testing, handsets, antennas, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE and 5G as well as GPS and OTA and passive measurement configurations.
Well known for their RF safety products in Europe, MVG began offering their RF safety tools in the U.S. eight years ago. “A customer approached us with a need. They wanted to ensure worker safety around antennas. We saw a niche in the market and filled the need. Our EME Guard products have evolved from there. They continuously monitor and record the electromagnetic field level and alert the user to potential overexposure,” says Jim Acree, Business Development Manager for Antenna and RF Safety Products.
MVG offers solutions to R&D teams for the characterization of antennas and performances across many wireless devices. “This strong antenna technology, then, is incorporated into the design of the probes of RF safety devices like the EME Guard Plus. We design our probes so they can detect radiation regardless of the incoming direction or the polarization of the field – they are truly isotropic,” says Acree.
Although MVG’s initial RF Safety customers were in the aerospace and defense industry, – wireless service technicians, construction workers, cell site engineers, as well as device manufacturers seeking compliance and test labs – now make up half of their business. They have a loyal customer base whose feedback is leveraged for future product designs.
The COVID-19 pandemic offered some unique R&D challenges, but MVG’s factory staff rotated their presence in the office, with many working from home to minimize exposure. “We were still able to launch the EME Guard Plus in spite of COVID-19, due to our staff’s extraordinary commitment,” says Acree. “RF energy is a lot like COVID. You can’t see RF or the virus, but they both can still hurt you. Our RF Safety products protect workers by alerting them to harmful radiation levels that can’t be seen.”
Acree recalls a specific installation where MVG’s EME Guard products helped save time and money. “We had a customer with several workers at a site that was being audited by OSHA. Only a few workers had the RF safety monitors so the rest of the crew sat idle, unable to work. The company was losing money. We regularly maintain a healthy stock of products and overnighted the EME Guard devices so the next day the entire crew was able to get the job completed safely.”
The EME Guard Plus personal safety monitors are also important when performing maintenance on a specific operator’s antennas. “The technician climbs the tower, hoping but not knowing for sure, if all the antennas have been turned off for the different wireless carriers. The EME Guard Plus has a six-point LED warning system and an adjustable audio alarm designed to alert the technician if/when they have reached critical exposure between 5 and 137 V/m,” adds Acree.
The EME Guard Plus fits in an armband just like the XS products, whereas past units mounted on a person’s belt. The Guard Plus offers advanced features such as an upper detection limit of 350 V/m and user-adjustable reference thresholds between 28 V/m and 137 V/m. The unit monitors frequency bands down to 1 MHz (AM) and up to 40 GHz, which covers all U.S. deployed 5G bands. The unit also offers data logging, so the user can download the information via a USB cable to an Excel spreadsheet, for future review.
MVG is poised to stay ahead of new technology advancements, and to adapt. “We sit on several working groups such as CTIA and 3GPP, so we know where the technology is headed. We update our devices to be ready when the manufacturers need them. Customer feedback is also vital to our roadmap,” says Acree.
MVG began in 1986, as a collaboration between The Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, and École supérieure d’électricité (Supélec), in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. They were initially tasked with developing a rapid near-field antenna measurement system. Today, MVG has over 350 employees who serve the telecommunications, aerospace and defense, automotive, satellite, academic and research industries.