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This just in: California 'cool car' law may hose your iPhone reception


Whenever I visit California, I'm always amazed with the number of state laws that have been enacted for one reason or another. For example, you're warned about alcohol's effect on pregnant women (duh!) when you go into bars and restaurants, and many buildings have mandated warning signs outside telling you if there are materials inside that might be cancer-causing.

Well, the latest California state law that will affect almost everyone in the Golden State is the new "cool car" regulation, set to take effect in the next decade. The idea here is that by reducing solar heat in cars by mandating reflective metal oxide additives in window glass, car air conditioners won't have to work as hard and gas mileage will be improved. The law calls for the coatings to prevent 45% of the sun's thermal energy from entering vehicles by 2014, raising the limit to 60% by 2016.

While this is a noble and worthy goal, there's one major issue -- these materials, according to a post on our sister blog Autoblog, seriously degrade the transmission of radio frequency energy as well. That means that just about any electronic device that depends on signals from the outside world, including iPhones, GPS receivers, and wireless broadband cards for laptops, will be "adversely affected by the metallic reflective standard." You think AT&T's service is bad now? Just wait until you're sitting in a car that is shielding you from any wireless signal!

Most likely, California vehicles will also need to be equipped with a group of (hopefully) aerodynamic external antennae to ensure continued wireless and GPS service as the law goes into effect.

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