2009 Detroit Auto Show: Johnson Controls Gains U.S. Patents for Wireless Communication System That Enables 'Hands-free' Cellular Phone Use in Automobiles


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Product creates in-vehicle, wireless connection to a mobile phone using Bluetooth technology

DETROIT, Jan. 11 -- Officials from Johnson Controls today announced that the United States Patent Office has awarded the company two new patents on an innovative, wireless connectivity technology for use in vehicles. The technology can rely on the Bluetooth communications protocol to allow wireless connection of a cellular phone to an in-vehicle audio system. This enables the driver or other vehicle occupant to place and receive calls in a "hands-free" manner.

"Johnson Controls is a global market leader in automotive hands-free systems, and today we supply them to major vehicle manufacturers in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia," said Loick Griselain, vice president, product management - global electronics for the Automotive Experience business of Johnson Controls. "We are pleased to have been awarded two more patents on our hands-free system. We provide value-added innovations that ultimately bring differentiated products to our customers' vehicles."

The BlueConnect hands-free system from Johnson Controls enables a wireless connection to mobile phones using Bluetooth technology, allowing drivers to make and receive calls using a vehicle's voice recognition and audio systems. The system offers a wide range of features connected to and enabled through the driver's personal mobile phone. It utilizes Bluetooth technology, an open standard for short-distance, wireless communications. The BlueConnect hands- free system works with a Bluetooth-enabled cellular phone, which can be placed anywhere in the vehicle. It includes an electronic control module and microphone. The electronic control module contains the voice recognition system, noise cancellation system and Bluetooth chipset.

The BlueConnect hands-free system is carrier-independent and service- independent. It requires no monthly subscription fees. The only fee consumers pay is their regular monthly cellular phone bill.

Johnson Controls has commercialized this unique technology in the United States market -- and in other countries -- under the BlueConnect(R) trademark. Its first U.S. patent for this technology was awarded in August 2007.

The company's second and third U.S. patents (No. 7,346,374 and No. 7,349,722), each titled "Wireless Communications Systems and Method," were awarded on March 18 and March 25, 2008, respectively. The two patents are based on a patent application originally filed in the United States in 1999.

Other patent applications related to the technology currently are pending in the United States and Europe.

The system has been tested and validated at the Johnson Controls WAVE acoustics laboratory in Holland, Michigan, U.S.A., where in-vehicle evaluations of the voice transmission quality of the product have been conducted. It also has been tested at the company's radio frequency test facility, the first of its kind to receive Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification in North America.

In 2003, Johnson Controls began supplying BlueConnect hands-free systems for production vehicles manufactured by a major automaker.

Johnson Controls is the global leader that brings ingenuity to the places where people live, work and travel. By integrating technologies, products and services, we create smart environments that redefine the relationships between people and their surroundings. Our team of 140,000 employees creates a more comfortable, safe and sustainable world through our products and services for more than 200 million vehicles, 12 million homes and one million commercial buildings. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com/.

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