By way of Chrysler's Uconnect system, 2002 will mark the introduction of an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) Bluetooth offering. However, the question remains: what lies ahead for Bluetooth in automotive and what role is 802-11 expected to take?

Bluetooth's largest automotive driver is the technology's proliferation into mobile handsets. Because the greatest portion of handset use is inside a vehicle, automotive OEMs are looking to link the handset with onboard systems. Since Bluetooth car kits are relatively simple and inexpensive to install, OEMs are proactively installing them, realizing the growing probability they will be federally mandated.

Ultimately, Bluetooth's reach will extend far beyond telephony in the vehicle. Today's telematics systems will soon escape the bonds of cellular networks and will exploit new wireless connectivity options, including 802-11. Potential applications for 802-11a range from electronic toll collection and vehicle-to-vehicle communications to safety applications, navigation, remote diagnostics, etc.

A new ABI study, "Automotive Wireless Networks: Examining the Proliferation of WLAN and PAN Technologies Into the Automotive Platform," discusses the automotive potential for both Bluetooth and 802-11, including business issues and emerging, market-driving applications. In addition to analyses of key market players, the report provides forecasts for automotive-targeted WLANs and PANs nodes, as well as adjunct devices used in the automobile, including PDAs, laptops and headsets.