What Is Bluetooth?

Home & Family, Technology
on March 6, 2012

In the early 1990s, your cell phone had to be held by hand and you were connected to your gaming systems by wires. Bluetooth technology changed that. Invented in 1994, Bluetooth technology gave the world the option of hands-free interaction with various electronic devices.

Bluetooth basics. Bluetooth simply is wireless or short-range radio technology. Cellular phones and other electronics such as television and FM radio send information wirelessly using radio waves. Bluetooth differs from the way television and radio send information. The latter broadcasts to many, while Bluetooth “sends information within your own personal space, which is called your Personal Area Network or ‘PAN’," states Bluetooth. Bluetooth is designed to replace the cables that traditionally connected devices, while still providing a high level of security.

History. The Swedish company Ericsson invented Bluetooth technology in 1994. However, the hands-free technology is not owned by Ericcson solely. Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) was formed in 1998. As a group, they maintain and continue to develop the technology. The first cellular phone with Bluetooth was released in 2000. By the end of 2002, Bluetooth technology had become integrated into electronics such as laptop computers, printers, digital cameras, GPS receivers and hands-free car kits.

Usage. Pairing is the connection of two Bluetooth-enabled devices. An example is your mobile phone and a hands-free earpiece. Using the Bluetooth-enabled earpiece, you can talk on your mobile phone without having to hold onto the phone unit. Game controllers for gaming systems such as Xbox and PlayStation use Bluetooth technology for their wireless controllers. Wireless controllers give players a freedom and mobility that cable-connected controllers never could. Bluetooth technology enables your wireless computer mouse, handheld GPS units and wireless printers. You even can send photos directly from your mobile phone to a digital picture frame/viewer via Bluetooth technology.

Beyond personal entertainment. According to Bluetooth, more than 40 million Bluetooth-enabled home and professional health care devices are available. The technology is helping to advance home health care, as it allows people to monitor their health from home. Home health care devices featuring Bluetooth technology include glucose monitors and pulse oximeters. Athletes can find the technology in their personal heart rate monitors and body monitors, which can be used to track daily workouts.

Significance of the name Bluetooth. The name Bluetooth dates back to the 10th century. Danish King Harald Blåtand, translated as Harold Bluetooth, played an important part in uniting Denmark, Norway and Sweden. He helped to unify conflicting groups, just as Bluetooth technology unifies different devices.