A young Sarasota, Fla., marketing company is hoping Bart will have a large influence on all age groups. In this case it is not Bart Simpson, but a new cellular telephone and global positioning system for automobiles.
Bart is an after-market monitoring system that is hard-wired into an automobile and allows drivers to contact a central monitoring station by touching a button inside the car. The station is then able to watch the vehicle on a monitoring screen and talk to the driver at the same time, providing services that range from emergency roadside help to travel directions.
“The system is designed to be as simple to use as possible,” said James Clinch, vice president of marketing for Bartizan American Communications Inc. “We have a nation of people whose 12 o’clock lights on their VCRs are constantly flashing.”
Bartizan recently chose Rural Metro Corp., a nationwide ambulance and fire protection service provider, to supply 24-hour emergency medical monitoring and other communication services throughout the United States. In May, Bartizan plans to debut Bart in Florida and in parts of the Northeast and the Northwest where it has been road testing the system.
“The after-market product can be installed in any vehicle. The interest is very high, particularly among older people who are worried about their security and their health. Their medical history will be in the computer file, and we’ll know instantly who they are and what prescription medications they need. We can direct an ambulance to them even if they are in a strange city,” said Clinch.
To prevent theft, a driver can activate the system before leaving the automobile. When the vehicle’s security is violated, the system initiates its own call to the monitoring center. The center then calls the vehicle for a validation password. If the incorrect password is given, the call center will contact a local police department and direct officers to the vehicle’s location, said the company.
If emergency situations take place inside the vehicle, the driver can press a hidden panic button, allowing the operator to listen to what is being said and take appropriate action.
“If your teenager takes out the car, we find out where it is,” said Clinch. “If you leave your car with a mechanic or valet, the program can set limits so if the person you leave it with drives too far or too fast, the operator will call.”
Bart uses all Motorola Inc. components, including a 3-watt phone, said the company. Its GPS system, secured within the trunk of the vehicle, can pinpoint the location of a vehicle within 15 meters. When activated, the system will decode signals from multiple GPS satellites and transmit the vehicle’s data position via cellular phone to the call center. If the signal is lost or the vehicle loses power, the system automatically dials the monitoring station using a backup battery.
Bart initially is designed for cellular analog networks because they offer the most coverage area, said Clinch. A next-generation product may employ digital technology, he added. Bart costs around $1,200 with a $23 monthly monitoring fee plus any airtime charges incurred from using the phone.
Bartizan said it initially plans to sell the product through traditional sales channels such as car dealerships, cellular retail outlets and direct sales.
“We’re looking at ways to package [the product] with a portable phone and get two lines,” said Clinch. “There are endless things you can package this product with … We’re exploring all avenues to market (the product).”