Shut that cell-phone up!

Published July 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Your cell-phone rings while you're in a cinema. What do you do? You either answer it or hang up before you're asked to leave. And if you're really lucky, then you have a feature on it that silences the ringer or you have one of those phones that vibrates discreetly.  

But what if you're cell-phone understood that you're in a place where it's not supposed to ring? Or at least not ring so loud. 

North Carolina-based BlueLinx, which produces consumer applications for short-range wireless systems, and a telecommunications center at the University of Adelaide in Australia are developing a feature for mobile phones that interacts with Bluetooth shortwave radio-link systems in public places, Wired.com reported. 

The feature is designed to automatically silence cell-phone ringing.  

Once outside of the 33-foot Bluetooth coverage area -- a standard established by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) -- cell-phones with the "Q-Zone" feature will resume ringing at their normal pitch.  

Bluetooth SIG is comprised of 1,800 wireless industry players who predict bluetooth will be integrated throughout society -- from soda machines to security systems, and yes, even to the lights of conference rooms -- to muffle cell-phones.  

"If you are a doctor, you can override the Q-Zone feature on your cell-phone," said Mary Beth Griffin, BlueLinx executive vice president told Wired.com. "The beauty of this is that it is unconscious and you don't have to press any buttons. It would be in the user interface on your telephone."  

Griffin's company has already gathered interest for "quiet zones" in restaurants, churches, theaters, and companies with conference rooms. However, the company has yet to form partnerships with cell-phone manufacturers that can incorporate Q-Zone on their products' interfaces.  

And cell-phone manufacturers including Nokia and Ericsson indicate that they don't plan to dash the silent or vibrating mode on their cell-phones for Bluetooth compliance any time soon.  

Still, Motorola, also a member of the Bluetooth SIG, said it is currently developing bluetooth-enabled "smart applications." The mobile phone manufacturer says products made by members of the Bluetooth SIG will adopt the organization's standards and automatically be able to interact with each other.  

"As far as development goes, we are looking at equipping our devices with Bluetooth capabilities," Motorola spokeswoman Jane Glover told Wired.com. "What is exciting about bluetooth to us is the ability to add on to it."  

BlueLinx CEO Jeff Griffin and his wife, Mary Beth Griffin, incorporated their company a year ago and decided to use Bluetooth technology to muffle cell-phones when their church service was interrupted by a ringing cell-phone.  

"We had been wanting to do something with Bluetooth and at that moment it was, 'A ha! That's it,'" she said.  

Public cell-phone usage recently created a furor in Campinas, Brazil, which recently banned cell-phones in certain public places. Cell-phone use in Brazil is expected to quadruple in three years to 58 million people -- or one phone for every three Brazilians.  

The number of cell-phone subscribers in the United States is at 80 million and is expected to soar as mobile devices become cheaper and smaller, according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association.  

Meanwhile, Nokia plans to unveil courtesy and safety guidelines for public cell-phone usage on Monday.  

Most members of the cell-phone industry say they feel the issue of ringing cell-phones in public is a matter of personal etiquette. 

"Just about every cell-phone affords some mute, silence, or vibrating mode," said Ken Steck, senior technologist at AnywhereYouGo.com, a site that offers information on services for wireless product developers.  

"It's a slight annoyance. It's nothing really serious, unless it's the same person over and over again," he said. "Once is forgivable."  

Tell that to the preacher -- (Several Sources)

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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