Sony and Ericsson Show Joint Bluetooth Product

HBH-20 includes a credit card-sized and a separate ear piece

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, the joint venture between Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Sony Corp. this week announced the launch of its first joint product.

The Ericsson Bluetooth Handsfree HBH-20 is designed to eliminate the need for a wire between a cell phone and earpiece by linking the two via a short-range wireless connection.

The HBH-20 includes a device about the size of a credit card which clips onto the users clothing, and a separate ear piece. The devices predecessor from Ericsson consisted of one larger piece that hooked around the users ear; the new one should be more comfortable. The HBH-20 is due in November. The company has not yet announced pricing.

Ironically, there is a wire that connects the radio to the earpiece, so the connection isnt completely wireless, but it does eliminate the wire between the phone and the ear.

In order for the connection to work, though, the cell phone must also be equipped with a radio that supports the Bluetooth protocol, and there are very few phones that currently support the short-range wireless protocol.

While the initial version of Bluetooth was introduced more than two years ago, Bluetooth continues to dawdle, hampered by disagreements over protocols, high component prices, interference problems and a dearth of real products to promote further testing and development.

Ericsson, which first introduced the technology to the industry, has been Bluetooths greatest champion, but many companies have halted their Bluetooth efforts in favor of the 802.11b wireless LAN protocol.