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What is Bluetooth Technology and Why Do I Need It?

by Liz Pedro

Did you know that over five million Bluetooth devices are shipped every week and at the end of 2005 there was a Bluetooth installed base of over 500 million units. What is this new technology and why is it becoming so popular? The objective of this article is to provide information to help you understand what Bluetooth technology is and how you can benefit from using it.


History of Bluetooth

In 1994, Sweden-based Sony Ericsson pioneered Bluetooth technology, Four years later Ericsson joined with IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba to form the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and today there are over 4,000 electronics manufacturers that belong to the group. The name Bluetooth comes from the Danish King, Harald Blåtand (translated as Bluetooth in English). In the 10th century, King Harald united warring factions of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The King’s ability to establish peaceful communication between differing peoples is a metaphor for the ability to connect devices from differing technologies.
This new wireless technology connects devices such as mobile phones, hands-free headsets, MP3 players, PDAs, digital cameras, wireless game controllers, computers and printers. By embedding Bluetooth chips and receivers into devices, the need for cables is eliminated. The Bluetooth chip takes the information normally carried by the cable, and transmits it at a special frequency to a receiver Bluetooth chip, which will then give the information received to the device.


The Bluetooth Advantage

There are numerous advantages to using Bluetooth. The most popular benefit that Bluetooth technology offers is that it is wireless. After years of dealing with multiple devices, cables, cradles and more, users are looking for more convenient ways to communicate and do business.
Other favorite advantages of Bluetooth include the ability to transmit both data and voice communications and the ability to send to more than one device at a time. Other advantages include:

  • Automatic setup of devices
  • Economic wireless solution for data and voice
  • Low consumption of power which ensures that battery operated will last much longer between charges
  • Global acceptance with users being able to connect to other Bluetooth-enabled devices almost everywhere in the world


Bluetooth Security


One concern you may have had about Bluetooth devices is security. In any wireless networking setup, security is a concern. Devices can easily grab radio waves out of the air. Bluetooth technology is no different -- it's wireless and therefore susceptible to spying and remote access.   
Problems like "bluejacking," "bluebugging", “bluesnarfing” and "Car Whisperer" have turned up as Bluetooth-specific security issues. Like any computer security hole, these vulnerabilities are an inevitable result of technological innovation, and device manufacturers are releasing firmware upgrades that address new problems as they arise.
Bluetooth has several enabled security measures that ensures a level of privacy and security, including frequency hopping, whereby the device changes radio frequency sixteen hundred times per second. Also within the security tools are encryption and authentication mechanisms that guarantee little interference by unauthorized hackers. One precaution you can take to make sure other people can't access your Bluetooth device is by setting your Bluetooth to 'On' and not 'Discoverable'.


The Bottom Line

Bluetooth was invented to simplify the process to connect products within short ranges, such as your home and office but it has already evolved to be so much more. The advantages such as wireless, global acceptance and low power consumption make Bluetooth a great investment for anyone.
One last consideration before you make your decision is to consider the cost savings that can be realized from moving to Bluetooth. Companies and individuals can save money from not having to purchase and manage cables and wires, and using IT resources to set-up and trouble-shooting devices. And while this new Bluetooth Technology is initially a little expensive, the promise of a cable-free life is priceless.

 

© 2006 3CWare™.
No portion of this article may be copied or distributed without the express permission of 3CWare™