WELLINGBOROUGH, UKFor some time, the combination of Bluetooth technology and Near Field Communication (NFC) has been seen as the perfect match of short-range wireless technologies. Despite the talk, though, these technologies are by no means ready to drive off together into a golden sunset. Still, the view of the two technologies as complementary is well founded. According to IMS Research, Bluetooth already is well established in the market: More than half of the cellular handsets shipped in 2008 will contain a Bluetooth radioa proportion that will rise to three quarters by 2012. Wireless Bluetooth headset use is growing year by year. What NFC offers is automatic pairing of Bluetooth devices within close proximity to help the user avoid tedious set-up procedures. The use of a Bluetooth-NFC combination in the car would seem ideal for hands-free cellular calls. In fact, news of Parrot's first speaker system, which uses this combination, has set the ball rolling.

As for the car industry, it remains divided in its opinion. According to Filomena Berardi, an IMS research analyst on the markets for NFC and "the wireless car," "They remain apprehensive; first, on whether there is a need for the combination in the car, and second, on when the combination will be successful and widespread in mobile phones. Bluetooth IC makers are adamant that the new Bluetooth specification 2.1+EDR will eliminate many of the difficulties that plagued previous Bluetooth generations. However, security in pairing devices, which has fired up interest in NFC in mobile payments and ticketing applications, isn't such a concern inside the car."

Berardi adds, "Many issues in the value chain remain before NFC is as common in cellular handsets as is Bluetooth. Until it is clear there is a business case to add NFC technology, or its addition to Bluetooth is at very low cost, it seems likely the car industry will hold fire on the combination for hands-free calling." Clearly, wellwishers may only be able to declare this a happy marriage when most handsets owned by car owners contain both Bluetooth and NFC technology.