Bluetooth Technology

                        Bluetooth has been known to be a wireless protocol that allows devices to communicate without any physical connection. By this, what is meant is that it does not require cables or wires for it to communicate. With its origin being from Sweden, the Bluetooth technology has managed to attract many technologies in adapting it use. Some of the technologies are cell phones headsets, computer keyboards and the mouse.

            Ever since its innovation, it is said that the first official Bluetooth specifications to be introduced, v1.0 and v1.0B faced some challenges thus being unacceptable by many technological manufacturing companies. This led to innovation of other versions to the latest v3.0+ HS which has high speed with enough security needed.

            Despite the adaption of the device by technological companies, like any other technological devices, it comprises its own pros, cons and challenges. Some of the advantages of the Bluetooth technology are, replacement of cable and wires, can operate in a busy environment, it is inexpensive, automatic, simple and flexible, low energy consumption, can be updated e.t.c. Some of the disadvantages the device has been able to encounter even though they are very few are, leaving the Bluetooth device on for long time especially in the mobile phones which can lead to energy lose, very slow when it comes to the internet connections and has got problems in accessing other Bluetooth devices since it is Omni-directional.

            Nevertheless, the Bluetooth technology has been able encounter some challenges especially with the emerging new wireless technologies in the market such as the IrDA and the HomeRF. It is believed in the coming few years, Bluetooth technologies would have taken the world by storm.

Bluetooth Technology

            Bluetooth is known to be the device for short-range radio hook up that is meant to reside on a microchip. It is known to have been developed in 1994 by Ericsson, a Swedish company that is responsible in the making of the mobile phones. Its name originated from the cognomen of the 10th century King by the name, Harald Bluetooth who was the King of Denmark and Norway between 935 and 936. His legacy came about because of his contribution in unifying different tribes from Denmark, Norway not leaving being Scania presently known as Sweden. It is here where the present Bluetooth technology emerged. The logo of Bluetooth is said to have been a connection between the Nordic runes analogous with the modern Latin H (Haglaz) and B (Berkana). Looking at the old logo for Beauknit Textiles, the Bluetooth logo is said to be similar with it whereby it uses the reversed “K” and “B (Beauknit)”. This device was meant to make the laptop computers to make calls over the mobile phones at the rates up to 1Mbps per second. Earlier on, the SIG standards embraced short range radio link which was 2.0 GHz Instrumentation Scientific and Medical (ISM). It is believed that the distance covered by this Bluetooth device then was 5 meters but with time, the distance improved up to 10 meters but after the expansion of the bandwidth to 700-800 kb, it then created a Personal Wireless Network.  It is also said that the transmission frequency range for the Bluetooth is about 2.4 and 2.4835 GHz, having a maximum transfer speed of 2.0 Mbps per second even though some Bluetooth devices are capable to manage up to 3 Mbps per second.

Ever since it inception, several thousand companies have come up to sign up so as to make the device the low-power short-range wireless standards for a wide range of devices. Noticing the progress and the acceptance by many, Bluetooth technology started to take shape in 1998 hence leading to the formation of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), who is the founding members of IBM, Intel, Nokia, Toshiba and Ericsson. This also has led to the adoption of the Bluetooth standards thus growing into the global presence in the latest world. Since the creation of the SIG, the Bluetooth became the code word for SIG.  They designed Bluetooth technology so as to permit the collaboration between different industries and one of those examples is the automotive markets and mobile phones.

Initially, this device was meant to be a replacement of the cables and the wires especially those ones which were used to connect the mouse and the computer keyboard even though it has never disappointed in those kinds of devices. This device can also operate in an environment where there are many users. By this, it means that eight Bluetooth devices are in a position of communicating in a small network known as piconet. With this kind if technology, this device has been able to come up with so many benefits which are embraced by most people . Being a wireless device, it has brought about the elimination of wires and cables of which in most cases, they cause some accidents in big a congested environment and also when one is travelling with his laptop, there is no need of carrying along the connection cable, Bluetooth device is in a position of working without those wires and cables. Another benefit of the Bluetooth device is, it is inexpensive especially in those companies which are planning to implement it. It lowers the cost when it comes to budgeting of the company infrastructure.

Interestingly, this device is automatic in nature. By this what is meant is that, one needs not to set up a connection or push any button for it to function. What needs to be done is for the devices to be entered in a range of up to 30 feet of each other and wonders will happen by the device automatically beginning to communicate without you performing any task. This show a sign of simplicity in the device since it is not a must for one to have the knowledge in technology so as to operate the Bluetooth device.

Any other person who has got no knowledge when it comes to the technology can still have the opportunity to operate the device due to it simplicity and the ease of use. Another benefit this device possesses is, it has got some standardized protocols meaning that it has got a high level of compatibility among the devices is allowed. This means it has the capacity to connect different devices to another even if they are not the same model. This device has got low interference when it comes to other wireless devices. It uses the technique which is known as the frequency hopping and also low power wireless signals.

When it comes to energy, it has low energy consumption since it uses low power signals. That is why this device is in a position to use very little energy and can also use less battery or electrical power as a result hence becoming an excellent benefit for mobile devices since Bluetooth is not in a position to drain the battery. Another benefit is the sharing of the voice and data. By this it means compatible devices such as the mobile phones, headsets can be used to communicate with another person. Data can be shared also through devices such as the computers especially when transferring that data across. Bluetooth devices can also be used as a Personal Area Network (PAN) by connecting up to seven Bluetooth devices to each other within a range up to 30 feet thus forming what we call a piconet or PAN. It does not matter in which room you connect the device, because even in a single room, multiple piconets can be set.

Bluetooth can also be upgraded especially when there is any kind of new innovation in the market. This kind of device can be compatible with the older versions of Bluetooth and when it comes to technology wise, this device has remained to be a universal wireless standardized globally. It is believed that in the near future, most of the devices in the market will be using Bluetooth technology . With all the benefits above, the device has got its own limitations in place. For instance when it comes to the battery use, especially when using the mobile phone, more power will be used especially if the phone is left on the whole day. One needs to switch it off or disable immediately after use so save power. When it comes to the internet use, if you use the Bluetooth technology, the connection at times can be very slow. That is why Bluetooth is not recommended for the internet use.

The device is known to be Omni-directional meaning that it can have some problems what trying to access another device which is normally the recipient. And a part from that, it is prone to risk of interception and attacks even though security has been a key aspect that has been built within the Bluetooth specifications. With the above advantages and disadvantages of Bluetooth, one can be able to note that there are many uses of the Bluetooth technologies. Such uses are, the cable replacement, voice and data access points whereby, a connection can be done between the personal computer and the cell phone or notebook or palm companion to LAN, email, internet via shared access point such as the conference rooms. However, another final use of Bluetooth is the Ad-hoc or temporary networking whereby 8 devices can share a piconet in a room.

Even though Bluetooth technology is known to be a Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANs) other two technologies that emerge here with some interesting relationship with the Bluetooth wireless technology are the IrDA and HomeRF. When we look at the two technologies, we can note that they are not limited to the WPAN domain even though they can be considered to be part of it. Other technologies which can be part and parcel with the WPAN domain are wearable computing devices which of late they have been known to be more popular and that are why they are considered to be WPANs or the elements of WPANs. When we take for instance the IrDA and compare it with the Bluetooth technology, we can note that there are some comparisons because they share the some similar usage models and protocols. However, HomeRF which also falls under the same category as of that of Bluetooth is known to have a short-range RF communication schemes which operates in the 2.4 GHz Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band.

When we look at the IrDA and Bluetooth wireless communication, one can note that IrDA is an infrared wireless communication technology whose developers are the Infrared Data Association. When we compare the two devices, IrDA uses an infrared light as a communication medium while the Bluetooth technology uses radio waves as communication medium. Like the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the IrDA specifies hardware and software protocols for wireless communication which its main purpose is to promote the interoperable applications.

Being the wireless technologies, they both use different electromagnetic spectrum with quite different signal propagation characteristics whereby the infrared technology make use of the non-visible infrared light spectrum which means IrDA is blocked by obstacles that are meant to block the light such as the walls, doors, briefcases, and people. Nevertheless, for the Bluetooth device, its wavelength which is the radio frequency (RF) communication is capable of penetrating many of the above mentioned obstacles in the IrDA  However, of late infrared technologies have come up with some ways of diffusing the transmission pattern. Furthermore, the latest technology uses a relatively narrowly focused beam of which the two devices that are meant to communicate should point at each other.

Interestingly, the initial IrDA data rate which comprised of 115 Kbps has been upgraded to 1Mbps as compared to that of the first Bluetooth radios. the recent technology has enabled the IrDA to acquire 4Mbps with the proposal of the higher rates in future while the Bluetooth wireless technology comes trying to ensure they are not defeated when it comes to the innovation of their technologies. Both technologies have got the advantage of low power consumption and also low cost even though Bluetooth is known to consume little power hence projected to have the lowest cost in the near future. So when it comes to comparison, Bluetooth and IrDA have got the same features in the cost, power, and data rate.

Nevertheless, when it comes to HomeRF and the Bluetooth, one can also note that this technology of HomeRF was developed by the HomeRF working group, an industry consortium not unlike the Bluetooth SIG even though both companies have got many groups participating in it. Like Bluetooth, HomeRF also operates in a 2.4GHz ISM band. It uses the radio waves for relatively short-range voice and data communication among various types of communication devices. The main reason for the development of the HomeRF technology was to come up with a solution for wireless in-home networks. These two technologies, Bluetooth and the HomeRF share almost the same features whereby, both of them were developed nearly at the same period and they both operate in unlicensed 2.4GHz ISM band for RF communications. Other comparisons are they both enable voice and data traffic and they are both designed for relatively short-range and low-power operations.

The differences between these technologies are, for instance, HomeRF was developed strictly for the home networking environments while for the Bluetooth technology was meant for the WPANs and mobile. When it comes to the range, for the HomeRF, it is about 50 meters while for the Bluetooth it is 10 meter. During the invention of these two technologies, the data rates were similar which 1Mbps was but of late, the HomeRF version 2.0 has shifted to 10Mbps. This means that when it comes to power consumption, due to the higher data rates, more power is needed as compared to Bluetooth even though both of them have the power-saving schemes in their respective specifications.

Since both of them are wireless, this two devices can interfere with each other since they operate in the same frequency spectrum. Another further reason for this interference is both technologies use frequency-hopping spread-spectrum (FHSS) when dealing with the undesirable interferences. Ever since the introduction of the Bluetooth device, several specification versions have been introduced. The first version was, Version 1.0 and 1.0B. This version had too many problems which became a challenge to most manufacturers. Reasons for this problem were lack of interoperability among the devices. Then version 1.1 was developed which became successful. During that time, there were somehow more devices which could use the Bluetooth technology.

Then came version 1.2 which is mostly used in cell phones with features such as the backward compatibility with Bluetooth 1.1, Adaptive Frequency Hopping, faster transmission speed of 1 Mbps, Extended Synchronous Connections Oriented links which are meant to improve the voice quality of the audio connections through by allowing the retransmissions of corrupted data, Received Signal Strength Indicator, Host Controller Interface (HCI) support for 3-wire UART and finally HCI access to timing information for Bluetooth applications.

With SIG realization about how Bluetooth technology was becoming popular, they decided to improve the Bluetooth speed of version 1.2 to 2.0+ EDR (Enhanced Data Rate). By this, it meant that Bluetooth version 2.0 + EDR were capable of delivering data at faster rate of three times as compared to the previous Bluetooth specification. Apart from the data transfer, it also provided an enhanced multiple-connectivity. This version also enabled the users to run multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time.  some of the features that had been enhanced in this versions are, it was three times faster transmission speed and at times it could up to 10 times in terms of speed transmission, Enhanced data rate of up to 3 Mbps, lower power consumption due to reduction of the duty cycles, broadcast/multicast support, also there were some simplifications of multi-link scenarios because of the availability of the bandwidth, distributed media-access control protocols and further improvement on the Bit Error Rate performance.

Another version which followed was version 2.1+ EDR whose improvements were made in terms of pairing and also, enhancement of power optimization. Version 3.0+ HS (High Speed) came about with higher data rates which utilizes 802.11 radios as it maintained the classic Bluetooth interface. Some of the features one was likely to benefit from were the Unicast Connectionless Data whereby the latency was lowered and there was the provision of faster reliable experiences and finally there was an enhanced power control whereby it ensured that there is less dropouts which had become a problem to most users.

With the versions in place, when it comes to the security on the Bluetooth technology, SIG has ensured that the device is safe. the Bluetooth technology security has been divided into three modes which are the non-secure whereby no security measures are initiated, service level enforced security whereby there is an establishment of non secure Asynchronous Connection-Less (ACL) link and the link level enforced security, whereby, the security procedures which are authorization, authentication and optional encryption are initiated fast before the channel is established.

In conclusion, the Bluetooth being a wireless technology, it is believed with the new innovations in place, in the coming years, it is going to lead the market of wireless technology as never expected before.