Look Ma, no hands!

John Baxter | February 01, 2010
Noise-cancellation technology is especially helpful when driving through a shipper’s terminal with the window open.

And no noise. A Bluetooth headset meets the challenges of in-cab communications with little extra cost.

Laws are increasingly restricting cell phone use while driving for safety reasons. And conducting conversations on cell phones is often difficult because of sound distortion and background noise.

While cell phones often have plug-in headsets, the wiring can get tangled, and wearing such headphones can be uncomfortable. Mounting the phone close enough to the headset can also be a problem.

An effective solution is a wireless headset that communicates with your cell phone and dampens noise. In recent years, Bluetooth technology has emerged to make this possible.

“Bluetooth is an open wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks,” says Chuck White, marketing director at DAS Inc., which sells MobileSpec headsets.

When you use a Bluetooth headset, your cell phone handles all communications with the cell tower – dialing, voice reception and transmission. The headset then uses Bluetooth technology to carry both your voice and that of your caller, and to allow you to answer a call and adjust the volume. You can handle incoming calls by touching buttons on the earphone. With most late model phones, you can activate a headset without changing your arrangement with your cell service provider or purchasing any other equipment.

The Bluetooth.com website explains that in creating a personal area network, the technology “detects other devices in the spectrum and avoids the frequencies they are using.” This means that you get a quiet and secure path for communication.

One important feature of a Bluetooth device is the position of the microphone and whether or not it is adjustable. “VXI has carefully selected a noise-canceling microphone and incorporated it into a design that is optimized for noise-canceling,” says Daryle Lamoureux, VXI product marketing manager. This includes “a flexible microphone boom to ensure that the user can place the microphone close to his mouth. The microphone picks up the user’s voice and not all the background noise.”

An adjustable microphone is probably ideal, but it should sit close to your mouth so the system can easily separate your voice from background noise.

Basic wearing comfort and reversibility are other issues to consider. Many sets of headphones are intended for continuous use. For example, Lamoureux says VXI originally designed its headphones for use in call centers. And White says many professional drivers prefer “over-the-head headsets because they balance even lightweight frames, offer comfortable ear cushions, provide boom microphones for near-mouth sound quality, and are usually wearable on either ear.”

Volume range is also important, especially if your cab is noisy or if you often need to work outside in a noisy environment. Make sure you can adjust the volume high enough for your needs without producing distortion. And listen to the sound fidelity for quality.

Cobra makes the T5 Bluetooth visor speakerphone with noise-cancellation technology for those who don’t want to use a headset.

If headsets are uncomfortable, you can opt for an over-the-ear design or a hands-free visor speakerphone. But background noise is likely to be more of a worry with a speakerphone, even with a noise-cancellation feature. Lamoureux says VXI’s Xpressway convertible headset has three wearing styles – over-the-head, behind-the-neck and over-the-ear.

OverdriveOnline.com strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.