Wireless technology has made an irreversible impact on modern-day life. It has unchained people from their computers, allowing them to access the Internet, send and receive messages and photos, watch video and transmit important files, all from mobile devices. One of the major players in the wireless revolution is Bluetooth, a low-power, low-range wireless method of data transfer. To learn more about this technology, let’s examine its history, applications and uses, and how it functions.
History of Bluetooth
The beginnings of Bluetooth technology go back to 1994, when Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson, engineers at Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, developed it as an alternative way to send data back and forth between machines over short distances. In 1998, it came to be managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), whose primary purpose is maintaining Bluetooth. The SIG is made up of various companies working together to use Bluetooth as a means of communication between their products. Now, over 15,000 computing, consumer electronics and telecommunications companies are SIG members (“Bluetooth,” 2011).
The technology may be relatively new, but the name is quite old. Bluetooth technology acquired its moniker from a 10th-century Danish king, Harald Blåtand – translated into English, Harald Bluetooth (“Welcome to Bluetooth,” 2011). One of King Harald’s major achievements during his reign was unifying fighting groups in what is now known as the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. “Bluetooth” was chosen as the SIG’s code name in its beginnings, and ended up being the name for the new technology. It was chosen to reflect the device’s ability to simplify communication between different sectors of the business world, as a nod to Harald and his skill in uniting quarreling factions (“Welcome to Bluetooth,” 2011). The design in the blue oval, according to Wikipedia, is a combination of the Younger Futhark runes for Hagall and Bjarkan, which are Harald's initials (see figure 1, above).
How it works
As mentioned before, Bluetooth transmits data wirelessly between machines without the need for a cable connection. It works at two levels: physical and protocol. At the physical level, Bluetooth uses radio frequencies to connect to another device. At protocol level, Bluetooth allows devices to agree on when and how much data is sent, and how devices can decide that the information received is the same information sent out (Franklin & Layton, 2000).
In every Bluetooth transmission, there is a master-slave relationship. The master device connects with the receiving device (the “slave”). An illustration of this is shown below.
Master devices can connect with up to seven slave devices in a “piconet,” which is basically a micro-network created via Bluetooth. When two or more Bluetooth-enabled gadgets are within the same range, they automatically begin talking to each other about data to share, or...