Johnson Controls Gains U.S. Patent for Wireless Communication System That Enables 'Hands-free' Cellular Phone Use in Automobiles

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DETROIT, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials from Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) announced that the United States Patent Office has awarded the company a patent 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 wireless link enables the driver or other vehicle occupant to place and receive calls in a "hands-free" manner.

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Johnson Controls has commercialized this unique technology in the U.S. market -- and in other countries -- under the BlueConnect(R) trademark.

U.S. Patent No. 7,257,426, titled "Wireless Communications Systems and Method," was awarded to Johnson Controls on August 14, 2007. It is based on a patent application originally filed in the United States in 1999. Other related patent applications currently are pending in the United States and Europe.

"Johnson Controls clearly is a global market leader in the automotive industry for hands-free systems, and today we are supplying these ingenious products to vehicle manufacturers in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia," said Loick Griselain, vice president, product management -- global electronics. "We are pleased to have been awarded a patent on our hands-free system," said Griselain. "We believe in value-added innovations that ultimately bring differentiated products to our customers' vehicles."

The BlueConnect hands-free system from Johnson Controls creates 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 contains an electronic control module and microphone in the overhead console. The electronic control module contains the voice recognition system, noise cancellation system and Bluetooth chipset.

The BlueConnect hands-free system works with a driver's Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone and is carrier-independent and service-independent. It requires no monthly subscription fees. The only fee consumers pay is their regular monthly cellular phone bill.

The system has been tested and validated at Johnson Controls' WAVE acoustics laboratory in Holland, Michigan, U.S.A. to conduct in-vehicle evaluations of the voice transmission quality of the product. 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 (NYSE: JCI) 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. Our commitment to sustainability drives our environmental stewardship, good corporate citizenship in our workplaces and communities, and the products and services we provide to customers. For additional information, please visit http://www.johnsoncontrols.com/.

SOURCE Johnson Controls