Understanding Bluetooth

What is Bluetooth and where can it be used, now and in the future?
Published: Nov 10, 2005
Author: Michael E, Callahan

This question submitted by Oscar Wellington, Christine Kaufman, George Natsumo, Jane Weiss, Robert Hang and numerous others. Names used with permission.

I receive a lot of questions about Bluetooth, but the most common is simply "What Is It?" I can understand that because it's an unusual name. Sounds kind of like a pirate name doesn't it? Like, "There was Captain Kidd, Black Beard and of course the evil Bluetooth!" It could also make you think of a bad trip to the dentist, "Why do I have this blue tooth?" You get the idea and I understand why there have been so many questions about it. I'll try to tell you exactly what Bluetooth is and what it can be used for.

First of all, I was a bit curious about the name also, so I did some research and found out that Bluetooth is named after someone. The name came from a Danish King, whose name translated into Harold Bluetooth. Okay, so I can hear you asking "Why did they pick that?" Well, good question. Actually it was because King Bluetooth had unified some warring tribes and the idea behind Bluetooth is to unify different platforms and devices. Anyway, that's the way the story goes.

Bluetooth is a way for devices to communicate with each other without using wires. I have a Pocket PC, for example, that has built-in Bluetooth and it can communicate easily with other devices that also have it. Bluetooth was originally created by Ericsson, and companies like IBM and Intel chimed in. It's been around since 1999, but even now, late in 2005, it's not as widespread as it will be. Some cell phones have it and that means that you can communicate through your phone with a Bluetooth-enabled headset. Some computers have it and it allows them to communicate with other devices, like printers, that also have Bluetooth.

Bluetooth is really like a very low-power, short-range radio signal. Bluetooth signals are secure from the moment they're sent, so unlike a wireless network you don't have to worry about turning on security. There have been a few security issues with Bluetooth, but these have been worked on and the system is fairly secure. Now, where might you expect to find Bluetooth at work? Well, you might be surprised. Here are just a few devices that utilize Bluetooth technology:

Keyboards and mice
  • Printers
  • Cell phones and headsets
  • PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) like Palm and Pocket PC
  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Digital cameras
  • Remotes - replacing IR (infrared)
  • Cars
  • Yes I said cars. A few cars, like certain BMW's and Acura's come with Bluetooth installed. There are also companies that sell kits so you can add Bluetooth to your own vehicle. This allows you to control your cell phone while driving.

    Going forward it's likely that Bluetooth will be improved and used in more and more devices. There's talk that in the not-to-distant future Bluetooth will be able to transmit data at high speeds. It's going to be interesting with more and more devices going wireless.

    I'd like to thank Oscar Wellington, Christine Kaufman, George Natsumo, Jane Weiss, Robert Hang and numerous others for asking thisquestion.

    If you have a question on any technology topic that you'd like someoneto tell you about you can submit it via e-mail by clicking HERE. You will not receive a reply, but all topics will be considered.

    About Michael E, Callahan

    Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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