Bluetooth Alternatives

By Christie Gross

You must have two Bluetooth-enabled products to use the wireless technology.
i mobile phone image by Clark Duffy from

Bluetooth is wireless technology that permits the transfer of data, audio and voice from one device to another. Data is transferred over a personal area network (PAN) space. Bluetooth is compatible with only certain Bluetooth-enabled products, such as vehicles, computers and cellular phones whose manufacturers have built the technology into the product. You cannot purchase the technology separately. Bluetooth enables the transfer of data between devices up to 30 feet apart, sometimes farther, depending on the type of device you use. It consumes a low amount of energy, which makes it suitable for battery-operated devices. Alternatives to Bluetooth exist that also allow for the exchange of data, audio and voice between two devices.

Infrared Wireless

According to Electronic Design, an online technology resource, Hewlett-Packard developed what is thought of as the first wireless technology operating within the PAN space called Infrared Wireless (IrDA). IrDA was introduced in the early 1990s and is still in use today by some companies. It supports the transfer of data from laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to printers as well as other short-range PANs. The technology, however, operates within a more limited range of only about 10 feet, as compared to Bluetooth's range of 30 feet. Furthermore, it requires a line-of sight (LOS) connection---a connection devoid of obstructions---to transfer data, whereas Bluetooth does not.

Ultra Wideband

Ultra Wideband (UWB) is a Bluetooth alternative. The wireless technology conveys data through the use of baseline pulses sent directly from a device's antenna. Its advanced signal strength can infiltrate walls, the ground and even the human body. It can transfer large amounts of data, more than 100 megabits per second. As of 2002, UWB was widely used by the government and military. Products for commercial use are now sold.

Induction Wireless

Induction wireless is another alternative to Bluetooth. It transmits data by way of magnetic induction, which is one of two fields that comprise a radio signal. Electric is the other field. It relies on a coiled transmitter that delivers the magnetic induction signal that is then picked up by another device. The technology was developed and patented by Aura Communications. Like Bluetooth, induction wireless costs are relatively low compared to other alternatives, and it uses less power, making it compatible with battery-operated devices. However, it's more secure than Bluetooth when it comes to transmitting data.