Drivers, ask yourself this question – would you rather engage in a phone conversation with a Bluetooth headset, or ignore and return the call when you're able to? Personally, the latter option is the preferred choice, because I wouldn't want to be distracted when I attempt to answer the call or multi-task during the conversation.
And that is the one issue that has been plaguing Bluetooth headset users over the years. The concept of keeping both your hands focused on the steering wheel is still lost on me since you can and will lose some form of focus when you're answering the call. In short, the interaction with your Bluetooth headset needs to be hassle-free to minimize the risk factor when you answer an incoming call.
This was a topic that came up during Plantronics' recent launch for its latest Plantronics Savor M1100 Bluetooth headset. Speaking to Alvin Kiew, Plantronics' Regional Manager for South East Asia, he addressed the topic of intelligent Bluetooth headsets. According to Kiew, when it comes to ease of usage, the focus for Plantronics is to "up the intelligence level" of its headsets. This was clearly demonstrated with the Plantronics Savor M1100 that was showcased at the event, which utilizes basic voice commands such as redial, check battery life, answer or ignore (amongst many others) to minimize the physical interaction between the user and the headset. The value is immediately seen if one were to consider incoming calls. With just a single voice prompt (to "answer" or "ignore") from the headset and the correct response, you won't even need to move your hands to take a call.
Voice commands have been implemented on Bluetooth headsets, but that's not the extent of what manufacturers are looking at. While Kiew mentioned that "making the handset intelligent is the hardest part" for any manufacturer, Plantronics is not shying away from making more improvements along that line. In fact, proximity sensors are also being considered for the company's products, which detect if the user is actively wearing and using the device or is kept aside.
Amidst these bells and whistles added to headsets, call clarity is of utmost importance. After all, if you can't have a headset with the right noise cancelling technology to recognize your commands, all that features are for naught. That, and the fact that you would want to hold a conversation without the other party straining their ears to understand what you're saying over the noise.
And for the visual creatures, perhaps the biggest hurdle to cross is the appearance of the Bluetooth headset. Finding one that doesn't look out of place when it's sticking out of your ear is rare. While aesthetics can be important, we also can't forget a very important factor – comfort. The Bluetooth headset, whether it employs an earhook or an eargel that grips the inner ear, needs to be designed with a perfect fit (or at least, the ability to customize the fit) to keep the experience comfortable.
Features, clarity, comfort and aesthetics. These are the four pillars of a good Bluetooth headset. With these four conditions duly fulfilled and mastered, using a Bluetooth headset should become second nature for anyone out there, including those who wish to drive safely on the roads with minimal distraction, like yours truly.
Seow Tein Hee / Former Associate Editor
Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.