Cell-phone use becomes hands-free experience

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
Shown is the Mobile Freedom Bluetooth headset by Logitech. The headsets link wirelessly with cell phones, enabling users to talk hands-free.
When Josh Rodriguez walks around the University of Florida campus talking to what appears to be himself, other students give him some strange looks.
The 20-year-old isn't suffering from schizophrenia.
Rodriguez, a computer engineering junior, has a wireless device for his cell phone which allows him to talk to friends and family using an earpiece and microphone.
His cell phone stays inside his book bag or the pocket of his pants, while he answers calls without the hassle of digging for his phone.
"It's just convenient and really comfortable," Rodriguez said. "I don't even have to talk that loud to be heard. Plus, I think it ups my cool factor."
Wireless earpieces have become all the rage of late and can be found in boardrooms and on college campuses. Those using them aren't hard to spot. Perhaps, you've tried to strike up a conversation with someone who you thought was talking to you. Likely, they shot you an odd look instead.
Bluetooth wireless technology has been around for over three years, according to Marlin Walker, manager at a local Verizon Wireless store. But in the last year, he has noticed more people coming in and asking about the hands-free gadgets.
"Some students who are very interested in technology have bought them," he said. "But, it also appeals to the general public."
People from all walks of life are looking to turn their cell phone use into a hands-free experience, said Treas Nelson, a salesperson at the Archer Road Cingular Wireless store.
"I've seen all kinds of people come in for them (Bluetooth devices), even a eighth-grader from Lake City," Nelson said.
The earpieces run from about $30 to more than $100 depending on the model. And not all phones are compatible to be used with a wireless device.
However, a vast majority of the new cell phones coming out are now being produced to be compatible with Bluetooth, industry experts said.
The headsets link wirelessly with the actual cell phone device and then calls can be taken up to 30 feet away from the phone, according to Bluetooth's company Web site.
After hearing a beep signaling a phone call, the user only has to press a button to pick up a call. Conversation can then begin and the person on the headset has the ability to use both hands.
Nelson explained people have all sorts of reasons for wanting the wireless technology.
She went on to talk about how the eighth-grader convinced her mother to buy her a new cell phone - and a wireless headset.
"I have no idea why she wanted one," Nelson said. "Clearly, she doesn't drive yet. Maybe she wants to work on homework and talk to her friends at the same time."

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