Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short wavelength radio transmissions) from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs) with high levels of security. Created by telecoms vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.
Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which has more than 14,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The SIG oversees the development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. To be marketed as a Bluetooth device, it must be qualified to standards defined by the SIG. A network of patents are required to implement the technology and are only licensed to those qualifying devices; thus the protocol, whilst open, may be regarded as proprietary.
What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a method for data communication that uses short-range radiolinks to replace cables between computers and their connected units. Many companies have been mulling over this idea, but it was Ericsson Mobile Communication that finally (in 1994) started the project that was named Bluetooth.
As computerized implementations have grown and become increasingly more common in our environment, there has also been a growing need for cables of varying kinds, to tie all these units together and ensure communication between them. These cables, when they grow into a multitude, are not only unsightly but also increasingly cumbersome to handle, both directly and (even more so) indirectly. Consider this list of drawbacks (below):
1. A tangle of cables
2. Varying standards of cables and connectors
3. Unreliable galvanic connections
4. Need to keep cables and connectors on store
5. Awkward to move computerized units to different locations, as cables might not be long enough
6. Need for manual switches when the number of physical ports are not sufficient for the need at hand
7. Need for re-configuration of units in the operating system when these units are moved, connection-wise.
Granted that this last objection is not attributable to the use of cabling, but it is one of those things that the Bluetooth technology takes care of automatically.
Well, then, are there no advantages to cabling as compared to radio-waves? Yes, cabling can provide less interference from other signal sources, and they enable computers to be placed in rooms that are shielded from radio-waves. But, all in all, Bluetooth is the most ambitious project we have seen this far, with the purpose of doing away with the need for cables in most instances.
Bluetooth is by its nature not designed to carry heavy traffic loads. It would thus not be a suitable technology for replacing LAN-, WAN- and Backbone cables.
Nor is it, by its nature, suitable in server-based applications. The emphasis in Bluetooth is on mobile, re-configurable computerized units that need sporadic contact with each other.
The Aim of "Bluetooth"
The aim has been set quite hight. It is to arrive at a specification for a technology that optimizes the usage model of all mobile computing and communications devices, and providing:
• Global usage
• Voice and data handling
• The ability to establish ad-hoc connections
• The ability to withstand interference from other sources in open band
• Very small size, in order to accommodate integration into variety of devices
• Negligible power consumption in comparison to other devices for similar use
• An open interface standard
• Competitively low cost of all units, as compared to their non-Bluetooth correspondents.