January 7, 2001
The marriage of wireless communications and the automobile is a natural in the modern, mobile world.
But with that union and the host of new services it has produced comes the possibility for new distractions as well. Behind the wheel, some drivers forget their primary focus is not to return a phone call or check their real-time traffic or sports report, but to operate their vehicles as responsibly and efficiently as possible.
A pioneer in wireless technology, Motorola is leading the way in understanding drivers' needs in a fast-changing world, and developing products to meet those needs. Through its multipronged "Drive Safe, Call Smart" effort, Motorola is supporting research and education to help people drive more responsibly.
"We will find the most user-friendly way to employ technology to actually aid a driver in being more responsive to the driving task," says Chuck Eger, Director of Motorola's Office of Driver Safety.
Hands-Free in New York
Remember that vow from Driver's Ed, "Keep both hands on the wheel"? Some states are passing laws to make sure a phone call won't lead motorists to break it. Since November 1, New Yorkers have been banned from using handheld mobile phones while driving. At least 40 other states have considered some sort of hands-free mobile phone legislation for drivers.
New York's law does permit drivers to use a "hands-free" system to make a wireless call. Typically, this means the driver does not have to use his or her hands when listening or talking. New York's law does not address the issue of dialing. Other laws in the works call for more research into the issue and for more education about distracted driving.
But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), among others, is unconvinced that laws restricting drivers' phone use are the answer. Eger says Motorola would like to see more research into the issue and more education for drivers.
"We agree with the policymakers at NHTSA and other places that it is premature at this point to conclude that legislation that has restrictions will be useful," he says. "We very much endorse legislation that involves education, that involves research into the kinds of distractions that are problems," he adds. "And we certainly will not oppose thoughtful hands-free legislation."
Education is a key part of Motorola's effort to improve the driver's experience behind the wheel. The company is a member of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), which is promoting a nationwide awareness campaign, stressing that safe driving is the motorist's primary responsibility.
All of Motorola's wireless phones meet the CTIA's certification requirements: A safe driving logo is displayed on the outside of the box, a user's manual with 10 CTIA-recommended safety tips is placed inside, and each product has hands-free capability.
In addition, Motorola has developed a distracted-driving curriculum in partnership with AT&T Wireless and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). The program, called "Who's Driving?", helps drivers recognize and address distracted-driving problems. It is available to employers through NETS, an industry group focused on helping employers keep their employees safe on the road.
Get Your Hands on a Speakerphone
For drivers who want to operate their phones hands-free, Motorola has a variety of products, from inexpensive and easy-to-install headsets to fully integrated in-vehicle phone systems.
One of the most obvious hands-free options for drivers is a phone with voice recognition (VR) and a speakerphone. VR lets the user dial the phone simply by saying the name of the person he or she wants to call, using the phone's preset phonebook entries. With a built-in speakerphone, the user can drive hands-free without the need for a headset. Motorola offers several phones with these capabilities, including its Timeport(tm) 270c and its iDEN(R) phones such as the i85s, i2000plus, and i1000plus.
Also available are phones such as the V.60 and the V.120 with VR capabilities that may include a clip-on speakerphone attached as an accessory. Even without voice-recognition capabilities, users can still get the hands-free benefits by adding the clip-on speakerphone to many models of Motorola phones.
Motorola offers a variety of other products that can have drivers talking hands-free in seconds just by plugging into the phone's standard 2.5 mm headphone jack. For example, the One-Touch headset lets the user answer or place calls directly from the headset. Another option is the FM radio headset, available on selected phone models, which works with the phone's software to turn the phone into a full-featured stereo FM radio as well as giving the user all the hands-free conveniences. Other headsets include over-the-ear style earpieces, retractable style headsets (which come with a clip that can attach to a belt or a seatbelt), and ear buds.
In the Car
But phones are merely one segment of Motorola products that can be used to foster responsible driving. A Motorola car kit lets motorists integrate their mobile phones into their vehicles. The simplest are easy-install hands-free car kits that include a cigarette-lighter adapter that allows the driver to plug in a mobile phone. Also available are pro-install kits that integrate more fully with the car, using the vehicle's radio speakers for the phone's audio, for example.
Motorola's Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit, introduced in early 2002, enables a wireless connection in the car for a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone. A driver can enter the car talking on the phone, and the car kit can pick up the conversation, allowing the driver to continue talking without plugging in a wire. The kit incorporates voice-recognition technology, which enables drivers to make calls by using voice commands.
Motorola has led the way in telematics systems, which enable installation of a range of services for the driver, including navigation systems and emergency response capabilities. Motorola has more than 1.5 million units installed in vehicles today, more than all of its competitors combined. In fact, Motorola helped develop the telematics systems for General Motors' OnStar system, which brings together advanced vehicle electronics, global positioning system (GPS) technology, and wireless communications capabilities.
Such systems allow a user to dock their Motorola portable phone, such as a Timeport 270c or a V.60, into the car's phone system. The contact information in the phone then synchronizes with the on-board electronics in the vehicle. In addition, the system allows the driver to use voice recognition or buttons on the steering wheel to select a person to place a call or to receive a call, all without having to take their hands off the wheel.
Better Driving Through Research
With several new wireless products making their debuts and more on the way, Motorola continues to see research as a key element in making automobiles more driver-friendly. Included in this research effort is support of and/or collaboration with several universities, including the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, and the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Motorola is also working with the NHTSA to establish guidelines for driver distraction research.
In addition, Motorola is conducting its own research. The company is not only studying driving and wireless phone use, but is also researching and developing ways to help drivers perform all their tasks more efficiently, with a minimum of distraction.
Among these initiatives is work being done by its Driver Advocate Research Team, which is developing technology that can recognize distractions, reduce those distractions, and direct the driver's attention back to the road.
With a goal of helping drivers limit distractions and drive more responsibly, Motorola's multipronged "Drive Safe, Call Smart" effort is an important part of the company's overall mission: to use technology to improve the driving experience for drivers, their passengers, and all motorists on the road.
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