Thursday, September 18, 2008

What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth technology is a low-power, low-cost wireless technology for short-range radio communication between electronic devices. (i.e., cell phones, laptops, PDAs, stereo headsets, MP3 players, digital cameras, PC and computer peripherals). Bluetooth replaces peripheral cables. It is basically a wireless USB.

Why the name Bluetooth?

Bluetooth wireless technology was invented by the L.M. Ericsson Company of Sweden in 1994. The word Bluetooth is taken from the 10th century Danish King Harald Blatand (translated as Bluetooth in English). King Blatand had been instrumental in uniting warring factions in, what are now, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, just as the technology is designed to allow collaboration between differing industries such as the computing, mobiles phone and automotive markets.


An embedded microchip sends and receives radio signals. These radio signals are multi-directional and transmit through walls. Therefore, Bluetooth-enabled devices don't need to be within view to communicate to each other. The Bluetooth signal hops to a new channel during each transmission, reducing interference problems with other 2.4 GHz devices.


Class 2 is the most common and cheaper standard. It operates devices up to 10m (33ft) away. Class 1 has 10 times the range: 100m (330 ft)

How does it Work?

Bluetooth devices repeatedly send out messages seeking another device within range. A connection, called a piconet, is made when another Bluetooth device is located. Each Bluetooth-enabled device can simultaneously communicate with up to: 7 devices (Data-only), 3 devices (Voice-only), 2 devices (Data and Voice).

Popular Bluetooth devices currently on the market
(see all the Bluetooth products available at the Wired for Wireless store)

Bluetooth Headsets: running cable to your cell phone is history. There is nothing like a wireless conversation!
Bluetooth Headphones: switch between your Bluetooth cell phone and your favorite music so you'll never miss a call. When a phone call comes in the headset will notify you, and once your conversation has ended, the music will automatically resume playing!
Bluetooth Hands-Free Car Kits: go hands and ear-free in your car, using the car stereo system or a plug and play solution!
Bluetooth Speakers: no home stereo needed! You can stream music directly to the speakers from your iPod, MP3, CD or DVD players, PC, PDA, Cell Phone, and TV.
Bluetooth Transmitters: add Bluetooth capability to any audio devices
Bluetooth Transmitters/Receivers: stream digital music wirelessly.
Bluetooth Mice and Keyboards: no receiver needed!
Bluetooth Printers: print wirelessly from Bluetooth-enabled devices (notebook, PDA, tablet PC, digital camera).
Bluetooth GPS Receivers: turn your PDA into a fully functional handheld navigation system without using cables.
Bluetooth USB Adapters: add wireless Bluetooth capability to your computer (often referred to as a Dongle).
Bluetooth Digital Photo Frames: display, share and send digital photos wirelessly from your Bluetooth mobile phone or PC

Bluetooth Specifications

Several Bluetooth specification versions have been released since Bluetooth technology was introduced in 1998.

The Bluetooth version 1.1 is the first truly successful operating version of Bluetooth technology.
The Bluetooth version 1.2 features an adaptive frequency hopping (helps to reduce radio interference), a faster transmission speeds (1 Mbps), and is backward compatible with Bluetooth 1.1.
The Bluetooth version 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) delivers data transfer rates up to 3 Mbps, and provides enhanced multiple-connectivity. It is also backward compatible with previous Bluetooth versions.
The Bluetooth version 2.1+ EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) in August 2007, will feature improved pairing and Enhanced Power Optimization.

Bluetooth Profiles

The Bluetooth SIG states, "Bluetooth profiles are general behaviors through which Bluetooth enabled devices communicate with other devices."
Just because a product claims to be a Bluetooth device, doesn't mean it's capable of connecting to every other Bluetooth device. A Bluetooth device simply uses Bluetooth technology and has at least one Bluetooth profile to connect with other Bluetooth devices that have the same profiles.

When buying a Bluetooth enabled product you should find out what Bluetooth profiles the device supports. Here is an example:

Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP)

This profile defines how high quality audio (stereo or mono) can be streamed from one device to another over a Bluetooth connection. If your cell phone/mp3 player, or computer, does not support the A2DP profile, you won’t be able to listen to your music collection through your Bluetooth Stereo Headphones. However, with your computer, you can easily solve the problem by using a Bluetooth adapter (dongle) supporting this profile.

Bluetooth versus Wi-Fi

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are the most dominant technologies in today's wireless home networks. They are not competition but actually design to coexist in the network since these technologies respectively replace peripheral cables and networking cable (Ethernet).


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