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Hands free: Evolution has come

Over the last couple of years the world of communication has drastically evolved and with that evolution has come the need for, and widespread use of, handsfree devices. A handsfree device when speaking in terms of handsfree communication is just that, a device that does not require, or only requires minimal, use of your hands. At one time, the concept of handsfree communication was nothing more than a dream, but with rapid advances in technology, handsfree has become a staple in even personal communication.

 The first major step in society accepting handsfree devices was the uprising of the company Plantronics in 1961. This company mass produced the first handsfree devices, known as Plantronics MS-50. This handsfree device was modified from a prototype headset made by one of the founders of Plantronics as requested by the aviation industry. The aviation industry was interested in moving to handsfree devices for the main reason of allowing pilots to communicate through the handfree device while still having their hands available for other tasks, like flying the plane. At this point in time, this was the only real use for handsfree devices since most personal communication was done face to face.

 After the aviation industry began mass-use of handsfree devices it was Bell System’s turn to join the party. Up until this time, Bell’s system board machinists were using very heavy headsets that sometimes required neck workouts to be able to use. That time had passed and with Plantronics creating lightweight handsfree devices the old relics were done away with.

 Since those days a lot has changed for the handsfree industry, one of the changes being what is actually considered handsfree. Handsfree was initially used to describe communications equipment that did not require the user to hold the transmitter, whether telephone or other communication equipment, up to their ear. Handsfree now describes a wide assortment of technologies besides just handsfree headsets. There are currently many technologies that contribute to the term handsfree and they have come about mostly in the mobile communication world. One technology considered to be a handsfree technology is voice dialing. Yes something as simple as voice dialing is a handsfree technology since it takes the need to use your hands out of dialing a phone number. Other handsfree technologies also include voice recognition, which instead of just being able to dial a number allows a person to write messages or other text handsfree, as well as text to speech technologies which allow a user to listen to a message they have received instead of using their hands to open and read it.

 The biggest jump in the handsfree industry came about over the last 10 years with the implementation of handsfree laws to the operators of motor vehicles. These laws prohibit the use of handheld devices without the use of a handsfree device while driving. It was at this point that handsfree device sales went through the roof and handsfree, accessibility technologies really started being usable. The most common of the handsfree devices used to date is the bluetooth headset because it allows handsfree phone calls, and with the advancements in handsfree technologies, can actually send text message, voice dial, and  even read messages for the user.