Q: What is Bluetooth?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

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Most of today's vehicles are offered with several advanced communications features, including Bluetooth capabilities. With the immense popularity of mobile phone use and wireless sharing, Bluetooth features are becoming more and more important in automobiles. Understanding what Bluetooth is and how it works is one way to determine if Bluetooth features are worth your attention when considering a new vehicle.

A Bluetooth system is one that transmits data using wave radio transmission bands. The devices often include a mobile phone and a device clipped to the ear or installed in a vehicle. Unlike many other electronic devices, Bluetooth systems are low-power units with long battery lives. The technology was created in 1994 by the Swedish company, Ericsson, and has dominated the hands-free talk market since then.

A typical system can send a phone call to a hands-free device to allow for safe driving. Bluetooth devices can also transfer calls to speaker systems in the car for the same benefit. The systems can also transfer files, such as addresses, maps, and songs, from the smartphone to the car system. However, you can't transfer data via the system without first allowing a particular Bluetooth device access to your phone. This feature keeps your data safe from unwanted transmissions.

New cars regularly offer different types of Bluetooth systems in their car option packages. In-dash systems are usually controlled by a monitor in the dashboard. Beyond making and receiving hands-free phone calls, the Bluetooth device in the dash might allow you to access your smartphone contacts, maps, directions, music, and even emails and messages. The system uses your car speakers and its own microphone.

You don't have to buy a new car to get a Bluetooth system. Car kits are available that allow you to hardwire a Bluetooth system in your car. You can get the more expensive digital monitor system or a system that works through your existing radio. Both use your car's speakers and current radio wiring to work. The least expensive and least time-consuming option is the device that slips into your ear, of course.

Commuters, parents on the go, and individuals who live their lives on the road will not pass up the chance to have a Bluetooth system in a car that they are buying. Many states have laws against driving and talking directly on a mobile phone, making any hands-free system a must-have. Having access to your smartphone data when you are on a trip or running errands can also be invaluable. Most smartphones today are like personal assistants anyway.

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