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Analysts predict cars will drive Bluetooth adoption

Consumer adoption of the Bluetooth wireless technology will be driven by hands-free use of mobile phones in cars, not by PCs and cordless keyboards, according to a UBS Warburg research report released this week.

"We believe the catalyst for increased consumer penetration [of Bluetooth] will be in-vehicle hands-free communications devices," said the report.

Adoption of Bluetooth in cars, boosted by legislation curbing mobile phone use while driving, could even spawn a whole new set of applications. Cars may become part of a Web services connected world, benefiting the likes of IBM and Microsoft.

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless communications technology. It has been more hype than reality for years, but more and more devices supporting the technology are coming to market now. Both Apple Computer and Microsoft will support Bluetooth in their operating systems later this year.

Car company DaimlerChrysler said it would start offering a Bluetooth hands-free kit later this year.

The industry and analysts seem to disagree on what will drive Bluetooth. Kyle Martin, senior director of sales for Bluetooth silicon vendor Silicon Wave in San Diego, said that Microsoft's support will "open the floodgates to a host of Bluetooth applications".

However, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, an association of organisations working on Bluetooth products and applications, said it would be years before Bluetooth is as commonly used as a mobile phone.

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