Do you read your email while driving?

Yesterday Waterloo-based Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) released The Commuting and Staying Connected omnibus – a study conducted by Angus Reid Strategies – which found that 32 percent of Americans and 23 percent of Canadians surveyed think that it is important to their work-life balance to have access to text-messaging, phone and e-mail while commuting. Not a big surprise.

But IMS has a solution. Yesterday they announced North American availability of iLane – the first in-car device that interacts directly with your smartphone and lets you manage your inbox using simple voice commands.

iLane is a portable smartphone-compatible device that can ride inside commuters’ vehicles, allowing them to control their smartphone entirely hands-free. iLane reads emails to the user out loud, on command, and it allows for access and control of other smartphone applications by voice command.

As an added feature, iLane provides daily news, sports, and weather updates on-demand from The Associated Press and The Weather Network, ensuring that commuters are not only connected to the office but are also well-informed about what is happening in the world around them.

iLane is currently compatible with BlackBerry 8000 series and smartphones running BlackBerry OS 4.1 and newer. Compatibility with additional operating systems will be available throughout 2009.

Matt Walcoff of The Record in Waterloo covered the study and iLane launch today and reported that Bell Canada has agreed to work with the Waterloo company with the goal of distributing the product throughout Canada. Wireless Rain, a large American distributor, should soon be selling the iLane in the US.

IMS currently employs 100 and expects reach 140 employees in the near future.