The concept of an intercom is as old as, well, two cans attached by string. But today’s technology solutions are anything but ancient; intercoms are being used everywhere from outdoor emergency poles to factory floors and everywhere in between. What’s more, they are incorporating the latest technology advancements, from biometrics to SIP, networking and the highest audio quality available.

“This is the age of voice communications, says Jim Hoffpauir, president of Zenitel North America, Kansas City, Mo. “We are experiencing it in our homes as well as in our organizations. Security executives are struggling to create actionable, real-time response to operational and security incidents. We have removed the barriers of budget, integration, scale and cyber defensibility so they can enable voice communications throughout the organization.”

Zenitel is working with major manufacturers Genetec, AMAG Technology, Lenel, Milestone and Open Options to form an “intelligent partner network” that addresses risk and resilience by providing an integrated platform, he adds. 

Audio is the main point of an intercom, and most major manufacturers are working to make it as clear and reliable as modern technology can manage. But for many, audio is just the beginning. “The latest technology trend we see is SIP-based VoIP intercoms with high-definition IP video — allowing you to identify and communicate with visitors,” says Mike Busby, marketing and sales manager, Viking Electronics, Hudson, Wis. “Viking’s IP systems also provide the added ability to grant access via an onboard relay contact.”

Networking is a big trend in intercoms, says Paul Hefty, technical sales and support engineer II, Aiphone Corp., Redmond, Wash. Network-based systems allow intercoms to integrate with other layers of security using open standards, he explains. “A good example of this would be the modular emergency tower designs that include an optional video camera arm. A second camera can be mounted to the top of the towers, providing security personnel with a second line of sight. 

Intercoms don’t have a one-size-fits-all application, Hefty adds. They can be used for door entry applications, outdoors in parking facilities, in emergency stations on campuses, as well as for inside communication both routine and emergency. 

“Up until recently, intercoms were thought of as two cans tied together by a string and used to talk to someone on the other side of the window,” adds Craig Szmania, regional business development, 2N, Axis Communications Inc., Chelmsford, Mass. “But this has changed. Intercoms are now an integral part of any school, office, apartment complex or small business security solution. Controlling who enters any premises and verifying who is entering before they gain entry is now a necessary part of a secured, safe work or education environment. So the adoption of intercoms into a facility’s overall access control and security plan is quickly becoming the norm.”

When it comes to security, intercoms have become an increasingly critical part of the equation, Szmania continues. And the integration trend will only increase that need. “Intercoms can contribute to the security solution through the obvious means of audio and video communication and verification; but also through access control, alert notification triggered through video or audio detection and being part of the system-wide notification system. The use of intercoms in security is widespread and growing.”

For more on the latest from these intercom manufacturers see the products on these pages.


Viking IP Video Entry Phone Has Hands-Free SIP Communication

The X-35-SS from Viking is a video entry phone designed to provide HD video and reliable hands-free voice communication for SIP VoIP phone systems and cloud providers. The built-in IP video camera has H.264 video compression, low light sensitivity, 126-deg. wide viewing angle and can output dual video streams up 1080p resolution. The X-35-SS dials up to five rollover numbers and is remotely programmable via a built-in web GUI. On-board 2 Amp relay contacts are provided for activating door strikes or gate controllers. For outdoor installations, model X-35-SS-EWP features enhanced weather protection and meets IP66 Ingress Protection Rating. Visit for more information. 


2N Intercom Combo Modules Increase Security & Convenience at Building Entrances

Two new modules designed for access control broaden the possibilities for use of the 2NIP Verso door intercom and offer a combination of two technologies for user authentication at office and residential building entrances: Bluetooth and RFID, or a touch keypad and RFID. The Touch Keypad & RFID reader module combines a capacitive touch keypad with a secure RFID card reader. It simplifies gradual transition to newer and safer RFID technology without the need to immediately replace all building access cards. In addition to a multi-frequency RFID reader, the Bluetooth and RFID reader permits user authentication using a smartphone with Bluetooth and the 2N Mobile Key app. The module lets users set various communication distances and two authentication modes: a simple press of a button in the mobile app, or for an extra layer of security, a press of a button verified by a PIN entered into the app. Access mode using an RFID card or mobile telephone can be set either as an alternative or used to enhance security with mandatory double authentication. Visit for more information. 


Aiphone’s Emergency Station Towers Are Modular for More Flexibility

Aiphone Corp. announced enhancements to its emergency enclosure products. Towers and wall boxes now feature built-in UL-listed electrical boxes to easily satisfy local electrical codes. The new modular tower designs also include an optional CCTV camera arm module. A second camera can be mounted to the top of the towers, providing security personnel with a second line of sight to more accurately assess and respond to situations. Additional new tower features include built-in mounting hardware for power supplies or accessories and rear access panels to pull wire from top to bottom. Aiphone’s modular tower design saves money. Smaller, segmented shipments reduce overall freight costs and only two people — without a crane — are needed for most installations. The towers are compatible with either Aiphone’s network-based IX Series or hardwired IS Series emergency intercom systems. Visit for more information.


Zenitel Announces Intelligent Communications in the Age of Voice 

Zenitel announced a series of moves to enhance its leadership in intelligible voice. According to Jim Hoffpauir, Zenitel North America president, the company is now offering the following innovations to meet this demand in the market:

  • Budget optimization: With the latest generation of Pulse technology you can remove the cost of purchasing, deploying and maintaining an external server.
  • Interoperability: Zenitel can plug and play with leading access control, video surveillance management, and VoIP communications technology. 
  • Advanced integration: Zenitel’s integration module can be embedded in organizational applications, such as parking, to enable crystal clear, intelligible voice at the edge to overcome disruptive and varying noise conditions in real-time.
  • Cyber defensibility. Through CIS, a standards organization dedicated to cyber defensibility, Zenitel is redefining the scorecard for intelligibility and defensibility, according to the company.
  • Cutting the cord to the server. Through its intelligence-at-the-edge strategy, Zenitel has introduced the ability to have enterprise communications without the necessity of adding another server appliance to the network. 

Visit for more information.