“How are flower berets gunna appeal to men?“ Howard: “We add Bluetooth”
Sheldon: “Brilliant. Men love Bluetooth.” Penny: “Wait a minute, wait a minute.
You wanna make a hair beret with Bluetooth?” Sheldon: “Penny. Everything is
better with Bluetooth!”. Sheldon from Big
Bang Theory
was right – everything is better with Bluetooth but what
exactly is Bluetooth and what are some of the applications of the technology.

me start off by saying Bluetooth is different to Wi-Fi (or as I hear many
people cringingly call it – Wifier) although both transmit data between
devices. They are complementary and will often exist side by side. For example,
your mobile phone may be connected to your home Wi-Fi network for your Internet
connection to then stream music to your phone but you may use Bluetooth to
connect your headset to listen to that music. Wi-Fi can be thought of as a
central point to connect many devices at high-speed over longer distances
whereas Bluetooth can be thought of as connecting two paired devices for
low-power and low-speed communications over short distances.

history goes back to 1995 when two Ericsson Mobile Communications employees,
Sven Mattison and Jaap Haartsen, were working on a project called MC Links
which was designed to replace cables to allow mobile phones to communicate with
each other. The technology was officially launched in 1998 by the Bluetooth
Special Interest Group which consisted of five companies – Ericsson; Intel;
Nokia; Toshiba and IBM. It is at this point that I started to wonder how these
technology giants arrived at the name of Bluetooth.

with many common items we see in society, the best ideas are often very simple.
Harald Blåtand (anglicised as Bluetooth) was king of Denmark from 940 to 986.
When Intel started working on the MC Links project, Jim Kardach was the Intel
representative and Mattison gave Kardach a book on the Viking king. Kardach was
fascinated and suggested the name Bluetooth as the king had successfully joined
two Scandinavian kingdoms in the same way MC Links was aiming to join
telecommunications and computing. The name stuck and was officially adopted and
the logo is the representation of the initials of the Viking king.

the technology had a sexy name, the specifications started to be ratified – the
Bluetooth 1.0 specification was released in 1999 – and products started to hit
the market. My youngest daughter tells the joke: “What was more important than
the invention of the first telephone? The second one.” And so it was with
Bluetooth. A single line of products was of no use unless they had other
products they could communicate with. In 2000 the first Bluetooth headset and
phone were both released. In quick succession we saw the range of Bluetooth
products expanded to include mice; keyboards; notebooks; printers; cameras;
health products; MP3 players and more. The specifications have continued to
evolve and most products on the market today are using the Bluetooth 3.0 or 4.0
standard and the specification for Bluetooth 5 was officially released in June
last year.

Bluetooth products have a transfer speed of 25Mbps and a range of around 10m –
both of these may sound limiting – but it is the low power of Bluetooth that
makes it incredibly attractive. Humans are incredibly inventive and there are
fascinating products being released to the market now using this technology.

that you have the lowdown on the technology, what are some of ‘practical’ uses
that we see in products available today. Most people are familiar with the
Bluetooth connection between their phone and their car or a headset – and audio
is still the most popular use of Bluetooth – but consider some other uses.

Watches paired with phones; golf buddies that
tell a player the distance to the pin; engine monitoring devices to send
performance info to your phone; padlocks and deadbolts; tracking devices;
helmet concussion sensors; autonomous suitcases; pet tracking collars; garment
activity sensors; running shoes…the list goes on. All of these devices use Bluetooth.

am sure devices that we have not even thought of yet will be essential items in
only a few short years. I am not convinced they will include a hair beret but
in this Bluetooth enabled world we live in, who knows!

Mathew Dickerson

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