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Bluetooth turns green

Date: 12/11/2007 12:51:03 PM

Though the Bluetooth headset appeals to consumers with a promise of unencumbered mobile communication, there has always been one pesky wire standing in the way of it being truly wireless: the charger. Iqua is taking on that last wire — and developing a more ecofriendly product in the process.

The Bluetooth accessorymaker recently unveiled the BHS603 Sun, a Bluetooth headset that charges itself when used in or left in direct sunlight. The device allows users to answer or end calls, redial, voice dial or switch calls between the phone and headset, as well as make voiceoverIP calls.

“Bluetooth as a technology was designed to make wires disappear,” said Paul Murdock, vice president of the Americas for Iqua. “Thats its only mission. Frankly, there is still one wire left, which is the power supply. We make devices people dont necessarily want to think about. If you are spending too much time thinking about your Bluetooth, you are taking away from the mission of the product. We think the consumer just wants to talk and listen he doesnt want to have to worry about which one of the devices is charged.”

Murdock emphasized that using solar power to “go green” is not a fad for Iqua. The companys Finnish roots give it a predisposition toward ecofriendly solutions. “There are definitely more products we are going to bring out in the future that have this because we feel its a natural usage product,” Murdock said.

U.S. consumers lag behind Europeans in adopting Bluetooth technology, largely due to a lack of awareness, he said. Despite this, analyst firm IMS Research sees Bluetooth technology as having potential for healthy growth in the highend handset market. Bill Morelli, mobile technologies analyst for IMS, said the annual number of Bluetoothenabled handsets shipped is on track to surpass the 500 million mark for the first time ever in 2007.

While Bluetooth has gained momentum in the U.S., Morelli is uncertain how quickly solar power will do the same. He said that solar power has yet to catch on for handsets because average consumers dont spend a lot of time outside. He said Iquas solarpowered option Bluetooth might be a nice differentiator, but it may not be the most practical solution.

However, there solar power slowly is gaining steam in telecom. Two years ago, Vodafone Portugal launched a solar charger for mobile phones, claiming that 10,000 customers using the charger for a year on solar energy alone would prevent the atmospheric discharge of 8 tons of carbon dioxide. Savi Technology recently began deploying solarpowered radio frequency identification readers and signposts, enabling its customers in the defense and commercial sectors to conserve energy and reduce costs while tracking supplies. Even Verizon is letting the sun shine in as it installs 140 solar panels at its central office in Florida.

Iquas Sun will be made available in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show in January, at which time the company will announce its U.S. distributors. In the U.K., Orange Telecom has been distributing the headsets since early November.

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