Bluetooth is not the first wireless technology. The reliable and cheap infrared wireless technology was invented in 1998. However, on the downside, two devices using infrared must be within ‘line-of-sight’, that is, you have to aim it at the receiving device, also infrared is strictly a one-to-one relationship and doesn’t allow connection with multiple devices simultaneously.
WiFi (Wireless Fidelity) is a close cousin of the Bluetooth; they both use the same wireless technology to communicate. That’s where the similarities end. WiFi was designed to provide wireless data connectivity while Bluetooth was designed to provide wireless device connectivity to networking and internet.
Bluetooth uses a tiny microchip, which functions as a radio transmitter and receiver. Due to the size of the microchip, the Bluetooth device will only work with other devices up to 10 meters away. It is possible, however, to boost the range to 100 meters but that would also increase the power consumption.
Though Bluetooth represents futuristic wireless technology, the name ‘Bluetooth’ is actually 10 centuries old. Named after a Scandinavian King, Harald Bluetooth, who managed to unite several unruly kingdoms, Bluetooth refers to the taming of myriad unruly competing standards by defining one worldwide specification. Bluetooth was founded by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba, the group that dubbed itself the Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group). Now, there are over 2,000 companies providing Bluetooth solutions worldwide.
When shopping around for a Bluetooth-enabled device, just be on the lookout for the official Bluetooth logo, which indicates that the device complies with Bluetooth standards.
Bluetooth devices can be connected to either many-to-one networking or one-to-one networking. An example of the former is a computer using a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard at the same time. An example of the latter is a mobile phone connected to a Bluetooth headset.
Today, it is all about being wireless and Bluetooth allows users to be free of cables and wires. When you travel, you don’t have to worry about keeping track of a bagful of cables and you can design your office without worrying about the length of cables and hiding them.
The great thing about Bluetooth is that it is so simple that a non-techie can set it up. Bluetooth doesn’t require any special configuration. All you have to do is turn on the Bluetooth and the devices will find one another and connect automatically.
There are hundreds of devices available today that use Bluetooth as a means of wireless connection to networking. However, is Bluetooth right for you? It all boils down to personal preference. As usual, technology and convenience come at a price, so a Bluetooth-enabled device can be more expensive than a conventional wired contraption. If you want to get rid of the wires and are willing to pay for it, Bluetooth-enabled devices gives you that choice.
If you want to send files to your PC and do the sync without messy cables, look out for the Bluetooth feature in your PDA. If you want your cell phone to be able to talk wirelessly to your headset or send files to and from your PDA or PC, you need one with Bluetooth capabilities.