What Does Bluetooth Wireless Technology Mean?

by Contributor

Bluetooth technology is a short-range, extremely low power, wireless communications standard used in a number of electronic devices. Bluetooth uses the 2.4GHz ISM band, which is an unlicensed slice of spectrum that is free to be used by all kinds of devices including cordless telephones and WiFi networks. When compared to WiFi, bluetooth provides significantly less throughput than WiFi. Throughput is defined as the speed at which data is transferred from one device to another


The Bluetooth Special Interest Group was formed in 1998, bringing together a consortium of approximately 400 companies by the end of its first year. At the close of 2000, the first Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones and headsets were available. 2001 saw the introduction of wireless printers that incorporated Bluetooth as well as the first laptops with integrated Bluetooth. By the end of 2008, barely 10 years since its inception, more than 2 billion Bluetooth chips had been manufactured. By 2009, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group had exceeded 12,000 members and Bluetooth applications were on the increase.


Bluetooth technology can be found in everything from mobile phone headsets to cameras and even televisions. Computers use Bluetooth for wireless communication between the computer and the keyboard and mouse as well as for synchronizing data with a cellphone or personal digital assistant. Bluetooth is now being offered as a standard feature in many luxury automobiles to allow hands-free interaction with cellphones. This technology is still in its infancy.


Bluetooth requires that devices be "paired" in order to communicate. To pair Bluetooth devices, one of the devices must be set to the discovery mode. When set to discovery, Bluetooth devices will search the area and report back on what other Bluetooth devices are available, generally identifying the devices by name. To authorize the pairing, a passkey must be agreed upon and exchanged. The passkey may be hard-set by the manufacturer, as would be the case with many devices that do not allow any user configuration, or it can be designated by the user if the device allows. Once the passkey is accepted, both devices can communicate. Many Bluetooth devices use the passkey 0000; try this passkey if the manufacturer's passkey is unknown.


Due to the standardized architecture of Bluetooth technology and the mass production of Bluetooth devices, the price of a Bluetooth chipset has fallen to a few dollars per unit. This makes Bluetooth attractive to the manufacturing community and has spurred adoption of the technology across many different manufacturing sectors.

The Future

One of the major improvements that the Bluetooth standard is working on is increasing the throughput that Bluetooth will be able to deliver. As the bandwidth speeds climb, the applications that this technology can be put to will rise dramatically. In the near future we can expect Bluetooth to be used for mobile payment, where a cellphone or key fob will be used instead of a credit card to process payment, as well as the possibility of "ticketless" boarding passes for airline travel and hotel check-in.