by July 31, 2000 0 comments

You’re coming back home after a long, hard day. You’ve
met some important people and entered notes about the meetings in your PDA. Now,
you want to transfer the information in your PDA to your PC at home. The
traditional way to do this is to pull out your Hotsync cradle, connect the two
together, and start the transfer. Consider this scenario instead–the moment
you enter your room, you touch a button on your PDA, and the data gets
transferred to your PC. No physical connections, no need to start up
synchronizing software, not even the need to be near your PC. Wouldn’t you
like that? Say hello to Bluetooth.

What is Bluetooth? Or, should we say–Who is Bluetooth?

King Harald Blatan (Bluetooth) of Denmark united Denmark and
Norway in the 10th century. Bluetooth (Bla: dark skinned, tan: great man) is
similarly expected to unite the worlds of computers and telecom (you can catch
the Flash movie of the story behind Bluetooth at In other
words, Bluetooth is a technology that can connect devices without using a
physical link, like cables or wires. The Bluetooth specification was developed
by Ericsson. In 1998, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was founded.
The technology is driven by IT giants like Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Nokia,
Toshiba, 3COM, Lucent, and Motorola, along with Ericsson.

With Bluetooth, it’s being envisioned that all devices
would be connected without wires. Bluetooth facilitates voice (digital) as well
as data transmission, and the communication can be one-to-one (point-to-point)
or one-to-many (broadcast). That, together with the fact that the communicating
devices need not be in line of sight, gives Bluetooth the edge over infrared.

So, if you want to transfer MP3s from your PC to your
portable MP3 player, you won’t have to connect cables to your parallel or USB
port. Just bring your portable player within Bluetooth range (10 meters) of your
PC. There’s no need to aim the device in the direction of the other, as in the
case of infrared devices like your TV remote. It doesn’t matter even if there’s
a wall in between–the MP3s will move to your portable player.

Bluetooth uses radio transmission for data transfer. For
radio transmission, a particular frequency band is allocated. Think of the
frequency bands as different channels of your TV. For Bluetooth, a globally
available frequency band is allocated, thereby making it compatible in all
countries. Moreover, Bluetooth can tolerate interferences from other devices
like microwave ovens. It does this using a technique called frequency hopping
(see box "In-depth" for more details).

The future of Bluetooth

With nine IT giants including Microsoft (which seldom
supports non-Microsoft products), and about 1,200 other companies having joined
the Bluetooth SIG, it looks like Bluetooth is going to have a fast impact. Also,
as Bluetooth is an open standard, developers from all over the world can be
expected to contribute to make it more robust.

You should see Bluetooth devices pretty soon, even in the
Indian market. The Bluetooth protocol layer supports WAP, PPP, UDP, TCP, etc.
This means that it can be used with existing technologies too. It’s been
predicted that by the year 2005, millions of devices would be Bluetooth-enabled.
So be on the look out right away, if you want to be the first one to have a
Bluetooth-enabled cellphone.

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