Cardo Cross-Brand Intercom Update [Exclusive Report]

Cardo Systems has announced that it has made further inroads into cross-brand intercom compatibility—specifically between Cardo and Sena helmet-to-helmet communication devices. Past communiques have referred to compatibility with UClear, Midland, and Daytona.

I’ve been reviewing Bluetooth (BT) communicators for 10 years and have often voiced my desire for an open standard on which all BT comms would link. Finally, this is beginning to happen.

Months ago, the cross-brand compatibility state-of-the-art involved the Cardo devices linking with non-Cardo units through the other brand’s Bluetooth channel. This meant the other brand user would lose smartphone and comm unit connectivity. The rider would enjoy the intercom, but lose all other functions, including phone calls and music from the smartphone. Additionally, the connection would be via BT signal rather than the latest and greatest mesh radio.

This week, Cardo made a new announcement: “The latest (software) release integrates the de-facto integration of Cardo DMC with Sena Mesh into one group, bringing together two leading technologies into one cohesive group.”

Here, DMC (Cardo’s name for mesh) and Sena Mesh are mentioned, yet my thoughts leaned toward the “old way” of linking through BT. While that is the case, it is not the same way and does not “steal” one user’s smartphone connection.

I contacted Cardo System’s Chief Marketing Officer Dan Emodi, and we discussed this latest development.

Dan Emodi: The new software update is the third in a string of ever-tightening, cross-connectivity releases by Cardo since the beginning of this year.

The first introduced OBi [Open Bluetooth Intercom] industry standard enabling communication devices from Cardo, UClear, Midland, and Daytona, with more to come, to seamlessly connect to each other as if they were devices of the same brand.

Cardo Cross-Brand Intercom Update
Cardo Systems’ Dan Emodi.

The second phase, introduced in July, did the same with intercom devices by Sena and the latest generation intercoms of the Italian brand Interfone. Connecting to these devices is now as simple and seamless as connecting to Bluetooth devices of the same brand. The connection retains all the Bluetooth functionality native to these brands (minus music sharing) and does not cost a phone connection.

The latest phase adds automatic reconnection to the Cardo [and] Sena Bluetooth compatibility. If the connection drops for any reason, the Cardo unit will actively seek to reconnect with the SENA unit until timing out in five minutes. This “live” connection enables a robust and reliable Bluetooth bridging of a Cardo DMC group with a Sena Mesh group, merging the two groups into one.

Ultimate Motorcycling: Months ago, announcements were made that intercoms from different manufacturers could link up via BT connection. In these cases, a user would lose his connection to his phone as the BT connection would be utilized in making the link.

DE: The seamless connectivity feature treats each device like a device of the same brand and does not rob away phone connectivity.

UM: The recent press release said, “The new update makes the Bluetooth bridge connection between the two systems a ‘Live Connection’.” How does this differ from earlier ways to connect? Does the Cardo grab the BT connection of the Sena with the Sena user losing his connection from the comm unit to the phone, like before?

DE: No, it does not. The live connection is a Cardo mesh-like auto reconnect capability. It treats the Sena as another Cardo device (and vice versa) and does not cost a phone connection.

UM: The press release does mention mesh, so I’m thinking it may be something new. It talks of the two main units being a bridge to other participants who would connect to the bridging units, presumably natively mesh. But, there are no granular descriptions of what users will end up with. Do the bridging units connect via BT and then extend to other riders via mesh?

DE: That is correct. Look at the BT bridge as what it is—a bridge connecting two “continents,” one Cardo’s DMC, the other Sena’s Mesh. Hope the analogy is clear. Cardo App has over-the-air updates, so pair the app with your smartphone, and the app will alert you there is a new update. Once the update is completed, your Cardo unit can connect to Sena utilizing the “live bridge.”

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The new software update became available on September 27 in the Cardo System website’s Support section. Those who are interested in cross-brand intercom compatibility might give this a try and stay tuned. We are currently testing this new software and will report back. We welcome feedback from any riders who have given this a try.