Bluetooth technology is a radio frequency short range communications technology that was created with the intention of replacing wired cables that are used to connect various portable and fixed devices. The use of this technology will do away with the physical cables that connect devices. The key features are its low cost, low power and robustness in maintaining high level of security.
Bluetooth was made possible by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group(SIG) which was founded by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba in the year 1998. The objective was to develop an open specifications for short range wireless connectivity. More than 1900 companies have since joined the SIG and the numbers are increasing day by day.
The specifications provide developers the link layer and application layer definitions which are used to support both voice and data applications. The spectrum of frequency used is in the unlicensed ISM(Industrial, Scientific and Medical) band at 2.4 Ghz to 2.485 GHz using spread spectrum and frequency hopping. As this is a free band, there is no cost for the use of Bluetooth compared to cellular phones where one must subscribe to use the network of GSM or CDMA.
IEEE 802.15.1 standard is used in the development of Bluetooth enabled products. The versions used are Ver 1.2 with data rate of 1 Mbps and ver 2.0 with data rate of up to 3 Mbps. The range of operation depends on the device classes. They are:
Class 3 – 1 meter range with maximum permitted power set at 1mW.
Class 2 – 10 meters range with maximum permitted power set at 2.5mW.
Class 1 – 100 meters range with maximum permitted power set at 5mW.
The technology allows the data and voice transmissions to be handled simultaneously. Hence, Bluetooth applications have been used in communications solutions such as hands free headset, mobile phones, laptop, PDA, printers, mouse, keyboard, MP3 players and fax machines among others. As this technology is made available in the global scale, one will be able to find many products that exhibit such capability.
In Voice over IP (VOIP) application, Bluetooth headsets are being used as wireless extensions to the PC audio system. As VOIP becomes more popular compared to wired phone, Bluetooth may be used in Cordless handsets, with a base station connected to the Internet link.