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What is Bluetooth Technology and how does it work?

Bluetooth Icon Bluetooth is a wireless technology protocol for the exchange of data over short distance, and this can be between mobile phones, or devices which have the Bluetooth connectivity. The devices create a personal area network where the devices paired to each other, send and receive the data. Managed by Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the Bluetooth technology was invented by the telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994.

Bluetooth was standardized as IEEE 802.15.1 but the standard is no longer maintained, and the SIG group has over 19000 member companies from the different sectors. A Bluetooth device needs to be qualified to the standards defined by the SIG, and there is a set of patents required to implement the technology, which is then licensed only for that particular device.

The Bluetooth networks come with a dynamic topology called a piconet or PAN. The piconet is what holds the peers, and a piconet contains at least two and a maximum of eight Bluetooth peer devices. The communication between the Bluetooth enabled devices is by using the protocols that are part of the Bluetooth specification.

The range of Bluetooth varies depending on the class of radio used for a certain implementation:

  • Class 3 radios – have a range of up to 1 meter / 3 feet
  • Class 2 radios – have a range of up to 10 meters / 33 feet (most commonly used in mobile phones)
  • Class 1 radios – have a range of 100 meters / 300 feet (common in Industrial use)

Bluetooth works at two levels:

Providing agreement at the Physical level: Bluetooth is a radio-frequency standard

Providing agreement at the Protocol level: here both the products have to be agreeing on when the bits are sent, the amount of bits to be sent at a time, how many parties in a conversation can be assured of the sent and received message.

Bluetooth Smart & Bluetooth Smart Ready

These are the extensions of the original Bluetooth, and they were introduced in 2011. These designations indicate the compatibility of the products which use the low energy feature of the Bluetooth 4.0 version.

A Bluetooth Smart Ready product has the ability to connect to both classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart low energy products. The low energy ones can run for a longer time in devices such as heart rate monitors, fitness trackers and this would be received by the Bluetooth Smart Ready products, i.e. smartphones to get the measure from time to time.

How was the Bluetooth name given to this?

Harald Bluetooth, the king of Denmark in late 900s had managed to unite Denmark and a part of Norway into a single kingdom, and then had introduced Christianity into Denmark. Thus the name was chosen because this technology was created as an open standard to allow the connectivity between disparate products and industries.

What can you do with Bluetooth?

There is a lot you could do by connecting the device using the Bluetooth connectivity. The basic one would be the transfer of files between the phones, and sending, receiving of sound from a phone to any wireless hands free headphones or handsfree kits.

Bluetooth can be used to control the device wirelessly. For example, you can control the speakers as well as the gaming consoles such as PlayStation 4 whose controllers can be connected using the Bluetooth technology. Many smart devices which are connected to each other all the time, making things easier are all because of Bluetooth.

By Chetan Bhawani on Saturday 14th of Jun 2014


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