Will you Bluetooth in 2007?
Many technologies that apply to the cars and trucks we drive originate from auto racing – seat belts, rear view mirrors, and so on. One technology that has huge implications for every car, truck, SUV and Crossover doesn’t come from the world of motorsport. It comes from the tech sector. It’s called Bluetooth and for anyone who hasn’t learned about it, now is the time.
Bluetooth originated as a wireless method of syncing personal computers with other devices, such as a hand-held PDA or a printer. Its early uses were not all that successful. Toshiba put tremendous effort into Bluetooth in the late 1990s, but never utilized it in a manner that drew public acceptance.
The real opportunity for Bluetooth is in telephony. Your mobile phone may or may not support Bluetooth. If it doesn’t, your next phone very likely will. And, as with your phone, it’s very likely that your next vehicle will as well. The trouble is, Bluetooth is often an option, so you must know that you need it to order it. Worse, some companies, Ford included, are bringing out new vehicles that do not support Bluetooth. In both cases, someone’s not paying attention.
Some analysts in the world of highway traffic and safety are starting to worry that fatalities and injuries in traffic accidents involving the use of mobile phones are closely approaching the numbers found when someone’s been tipping too many at the bar. If drunk driving accidents and mobile phone use in the car merge, there will be all kinds of bills to pay. In 2005, approximately 2,600 people died in auto accidents while using their mobile phone (Minn Dept of Public Safety Study).
To reduce that risk, many states have either implemented or are planning to implement laws the prohibit the use of cellular hand-held phones in all types of moving vehicles. New York will cite you for it right now. In California, the law goes into effect in July, 2008. Regardless of the state you’re in, the message is clear: Your mobile phone must be hands-free in the very near future. The way to get that done is via Bluetooth. As with any new legislation, there are people who object and believe as Americans, it is their right to drive and die when using a mobile phone. Most state Attorney General offices disagree.
Mobile Phone and service providers have been paying attention, as have third party manufacturers who sell conversion kits for your cars. Pioneer, Alpine, Motorola and others have solutions that can be added to a wide variety of vehicles. Verizon and others have developed Bluetooth solutions as well, listing the applicable vehicle, phones, and related conversion products.
As with any third-party add-on, plugging something into your car isn’t as elegant as using the built-in components of your vehicle. Acura, BMW, and Lexus are a few of the manufacturers who totally get the use of Bluetooth. Ford, on the other hand, has missed the boat. Several new introductions, including the Ford Edge, which isn’t available until the new year, will not include Bluetooth, even as an option. Someone in Dearborn must be working late at night to fix that situation.
If you’re interested in learning more about Bluetooth and your vehicle, there is an excellent website called the Bluetooth Car Weblog that describes and reviews a wide array of automotive Bluetooth solutions, including both OEM and third-party offerings. So, as you make your New Year’s resolutions, make sure you check off “make my vehicle Bluetooth compliant.”