Monthly Archives: September 2010

Maryland going hands-free on October 1st

Maryland is about to follow suit and go hands-free,  along with fellow states such as California, Oregon, Washington, New York and New Jersey. As of Friday the use of hand held cell phones will be banned for all drivers in Maryland. Using hands-free devices will be compulsory for those on the road.

Distracted driving comes in many forms such as eating, drinking, fidgeting with the radio, tending to small kids in the back seat and even talking to your passengers while driving but cell phone use and texting are the most noteworthy.

A study by the American Journal of Public Health, released on September 23, 2010 found that distracted driving fatalities caused by cell phone use and texting soared 28 percent, from 4,572 in 2005 to 5,870 in 2008. A Transportation Department study showed that motorists who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting.

In addition, even though we all know it’s dangerous to text and drive, 34% of teens aged 13-17 and 47% of adults aged 18+ have admitted to texting while driving according to Mashable.

What do these stats tell us?

Yes, we’ve all done it, reaching for the phone to make a call or send a text while driving. Realistically it’s almost impossible to completely stop drivers from using their phones – even after legislation – unless they switch it off or leave the phones at home. Think of busy professionals on the go.

At the very least by using hands-free devices to send text messages or take a call, drivers can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

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Plantronics launches Vocalyst

Today, cloud based voice services took another big step forward with the announcement by Plantronics of a new service called ‘Vocalyst’.   Vocalyst is a cloud based voice service that comes bundled with two new headsets (also announced today) in the Plantronics range.

First up is the  Savor M1100 which comes with a dedicated voice button – you just tap the button and say “call vocalyst” – and you’re through to the service.

Savor M1100

Likewise, the new Voyager PRO+, lets users invoke the service by just triple-tapping a button on the headset.

Voyager PRO+

Now instead of just making and taking calls, users of the Plantronics Savor M1100 and Voyager PRO+  can do several things “out of the box” with Vocalyst:

  • Send and listen to emails
  • Record and listen to reminders
  • Post messages to Twitter and listen to their Twitter streams
  • Update Evernote
  • Listen to the news, finance, sports and weather reports
  • An optional upgrade allows users to send text messages, use a range of 3rd party services and have their messages converted from voice to text.

Plantronics are offering Vocalyst Basic edition bundled free for one year with the Savor M100 and Voyager PRO+ in the US.  Both the Savor M1100 and the Voyager Pro+ will retail at $99.99 and will be available in October in the US.

Vocalyst works with any phone – users activate the 1 year included service at www.plantronics.com/vocalyst.

Plantronics Vocalyst

As an extra bonus to help combat distracted driving, Blackberry and Android users can download  apps that will read out text messages to you while you drive, and auto-respond with a custom message.

Vocalyst Smartphone App

The Plantronics Vocalyst service is powered by Dial2Do.

Full release here