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In the Fast Lane

Now you can check e-mail with both hands on the wheel.

Entrepreneurial road warriors have become champion multitaskers when it comes to getting the most out of drive time. They make calls, take calls and navigate with GPS. Soon you'll be able to add "check e-mail" to that list--and we're not talking about steering with your knees while making quick glances at a cell phone or PDA screen. Intelligent Mechatronic Systems has come up with a way for you to listen to your e-mail while you keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

iLane is a speech recognition add-on that connects wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, handhelds, vehicle audio systems and headsets. It accepts voice commands from the user and reads e-mail and other data aloud in your choice of a male or female voice. Like any good multitasker, iLane also handles text messages, appointments, phone calls and calendar requests. The system, which gets power from the cigarette lighter port, can be moved among vehicles.

Currently, iLane supports BlackBerrys and Bluetooth-enabled Palm, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices. Pricing for iLane was not available at press time, but should be available in aftermarket auto channels soon. For entrepreneurs who can't bear to be separated from their e-mail even for a car ride, iLane could be a good hands-free answer.

Short shift?
A new wireless technology could challenge bluetooth.

Bluetooth, take notice: There's a new kid in town. Nokia is marshalling its forces behind a new short-range wireless technology called Wibree. According to Nokia, Wibree will be easy to integrate with the well-established Bluetooth technology, but there are some hints that Wibree could eventually challenge Bluetooth. Its range, up to 10 meters, is in line with Bluetooth's range. It also has a similar data rate of 1 Mbps. It differentiates itself in its small size, low power consumption and low cost. Those features would make the technology a good candidate for very small, lightweight applications like watches, clothing, wireless keyboards, medical sensors, cell phones and other mobile devices that need to minimize battery drain.

Wibree is being developed as an open industry initiative in an effort to get it to market quickly. Big names Broadcom and Epson are among Wibree's partners. Nokia is on track to have the first commercial version of the Wibree interoperability specification out by mid-2007. Nokia has the heft to back up a new technology, but it will be interesting to see whether Wibree will challenge Bluetooth or just complement it. Entrepreneurs should keep an eye out for dual-mode Bluetooth/Wibree-equipped devices. Visit for the latest news and information on the technology.

This story appears in the February 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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