Bluetooth technology once the coolest way to connect, is making a comeback as the backbone of a new connected world but what exactly is it?
Invented by Ericsson in 1994, Bluetooth technology is a wireless communications system which allows you to send and exchange data over short distances.
How Does it Work?
A Bluetooth device uses radio waves instead of wires or cables to connect to a phone or computer. A Bluetooth product, like a headset or watch, contains a tiny computer chip with a Bluetooth radio and software that makes it easy to connect. When two Bluetooth devices want to talk to each other, they need to pair. Communication between Bluetooth devices happens over short-range, ad hoc networks known as piconets. A piconet is a network of devices connected using Bluetooth technology. The network ranges from two to eight connected devices.
What Can It Do?
Bluetooth can wirelessly connect devices together such as connecting your headset to your phone, car or computer or connecting your phone or computer to your speakers. Best of all? It can connect your lights, door locks, TV, shoes, basketballs, water bottles, toys—almost anything you can think of—to an app on your phone. Bluetooth takes it even further with connecting beacons (small transmitters which send data over Bluetooth) to shoppers or travelers in airports or even attendees at sporting events.
Are There Different Kinds of Bluetooth Technology?
There are actually several kinds of Bluetooth but the most common today are Bluetooth BR/EDR (basic rate/enhanced data rate) and Bluetooth with low energy functionality. You’ll generally find BR/EDR in things like speakers and headsets while you will see Bluetooth Smart in the newest products on the market like fitness bands, beacons and smart home devices.
Why Is It Better Than Other Technologies?
It operates using very little power, it’s easy to use and it doesn’t cost a thing.
Bluetooth is everywhere—you will find Bluetooth built into nearly every phone, laptop, desktop and tablet. This makes it so convenient to connect a keyboard, mouse, speakers or fitness band to your phone or computer. Bluetooth is low power—with the advent of Bluetooth Smart (BLE or Bluetooth low energy), developers were able to create smaller sensors that run off tiny coincell batteries for months, and in some cases, years. This is setting the stage for Bluetooth as a key component in the Internet of Things.
Bluetooth is easy to use—for consumers, it really can’t get any easier. You go to settings, turn on your Bluetooth, hit the pairing button and wait for it start communicating. That’s it. From a development standpoint, creating a Bluetooth product starts with the core specification and then you layer profiles and services onto it. There are several tools that the SIG has to help developers.
Bluetooth is low cost—you can add Bluetooth for a minimal cost. You will need to buy a module/system on chip (SoC)/etc. and pay an administrative fee to use the brand and license the technology. The administrative fee varies on the size of the company and there are programs to help startups.