#70 Annoying bluetooth switching: am I doing something wrong?

There’s this annoying bluetooth switching problem that I encounter all the time between my phone, my wife’s phone and our car audio.

1 – When I am on a phone talking to someone in my room, all of the sudden my phone’s audio gets routed to a car audio when my wife starts an engine of our car in a garage.

2 – When I start the engine of the car in the garage, the car audio immediately connects to my wife’s phone and starts playing her music, instead of connecting to my phone.

Why do I experience these problems?

My use case seems nothing special, but it caused an undesirable outcome.

To be precise, I should say technology still worked as intended.

It’s my use case that was outside the scope of the supported use case.

So what is the supported use case then?

The supported use case is based on a single person using a bluetooth headset. The bluetooth headset, a phone A and a phone B all belong to this one person.

Within a bluetooth specification, there’s a feature called “Bluetooth multipoint”.

This allows a bluetooth device such as a bluetooth headset to simultaneously connect to two source devices.

I can listen to music from my phone A and still receive notifications or business calls from my phone B.

The bluetooth headset, the phone A, and the phone B all belong to this one person. The use case is centered around a bluetooth headset.

In contrast my use case is based on two people sharing the bluetooth car audio from their phones. 

The bluetooth car audio is not always on, it turns on and off.

I wish the car audio was smart enough to connect to a phone inside the car, rather than a phone further away behind the wall inside the house.

Even if the car audio has a proximity sensor built in to detect the distance to the phones, it gets tricky.

What if both my wife and myself are in the car with our phones at the same time? 

At that point, the decision factor is no longer about the proximity of a phone to the car audio.

It’s all about human context and intention.

To solve this, it may need a voice prompt asking users “which device would you like to connect to the car audio?”.

Context is one of 3 elements that make up a user experience.

A product, a user, and a context are those three elements.

This example once again reinforces the importance of context in user experience.

It’s so critical for a user experience designer to consider a context when she designs a user experience.


Check out YouTube version too.

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