Future Application Domains
Here we examine just a few new Bluetooth application domains, in addition to those already being developed as new profiles within the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). This section deals with possibilities; solutions like those described here may or may not be deployed. This discussion is not exhaustive; new applications will almost certainly continue to appear over time.
Retail and Mobile e-Commerce
As Bluetooth wireless technology is incorporated in more personal mobile devices, it enables new uses for those devices. One such use is that of a mobile device as a method of payment for goods and services.
Any terminal that is used for retail transactions could incorporate Bluetooth wireless technology and thus connect to other Bluetooth devices to complete retail transactions. For example, a mobile phone could connect to a soda machine over a Bluetooth link to pay for a soda, or link to a kiosk at which you could buy a theater ticket. Similarly, a mobile phone, PDA, or other device could be used to pay for goods and services using Bluetooth communication links with a cash register. Indeed, through the use of Bluetooth access points, entire shopping malls, arenas, grocery stores, restaurants, and other retail areas could allow customers to perform financial transactions throughout the building. Along with electronic payment, related transactions could occur, including such things as special discounts, electronic coupons, customer loyalty benefits and so on.
As the practice of medicine becomes more sophisticated and complex, new technology is increasingly used in this area. Here we suggest three possible applications of Bluetooth wireless technology in the medical domain (remote patient monitoring, wireless biometric data, and medicine dispensers); certainly others are conceivable.
Patient monitoring of things like vital signs outside of typical medical environments (such as hospitals) is becoming increasingly common. Patients may measure certain body functions and periodically report these to a medical care provider. This can be done electronically, and if so, might involve manual data entry or cables from the measuring equipment; the data might then be transmitted over a dial-up network connection. Bluetooth wireless technology can improve this process by automating the data transfer from one device to another and making the transmission of the data more convenient, using wireless dial-up networking (as described in our book, Bluetooth Revealed). The biometric data collection could even use Bluetooth links as described next.
Some kinds of medical testing, such as electrocardiograms and the like, involve taking detailed measurements of certain body functions. Current technology uses wires to connect the sensors on the body to the measurement equipment. Bluetooth wireless technology could replace these wires, allowing measurements to be taken remotely and more conveniently. Such a wireless solution would also allow the person undergoing the testing to be more mobile. This might be especially useful to measure the body functions of athletes for research purposes, or to measure response to exercise.
The final medical application that we note here involves the use of Bluetooth wireless technology in medicine dispensing devices. Some medicines must be taken in very precise dosages, which medical practitioners adjust based on the patient's response to the dose. Consider a medicine dispenser (say, an inhaler or intravenous medication delivery device) that had Bluetooth communication capability. Such a dispenser could transmit information about the dosage and time; this could in turn be transmitted to a medical facility (as previously described for remote patient monitoring), and the dosage could be adjusted in real time based on the patient's response to the medicine (which might use wireless biometric measurements as described earlier).
The travel industry is always seeking new ways to save time and enhance convenience for travelers. Here we present a few ways in which Bluetooth wireless technology could enhance travel scenarios.
In the airline industry, the use of so-called "ticketless travel," or electronic tickets, is becoming more common. Self-service check-in kiosks are beginning to appear in airports. However, electronic tickets still require issuance of a paper boarding pass in many cases, and self-service check-in often requires the use of a credit card or frequent flyer card to identify the user. With a personal device that employs Bluetooth wireless communications, a traveler might check in using this device, which could include personal identity credentials, thus eliminating the need to insert a card into a terminal. Moreover, an electronic boarding pass could be issued and stored in the Bluetooth device; that same device could then be used to wirelessly present the boarding pass when boarding the aircraft, eliminating the need for a paper boarding pass.
In the hotel industry, the use of Bluetooth technology has been demonstrated at industry trade shows. Possible applications of Bluetooth wireless communication include the ability to check in to the hotel automatically using a Bluetooth device (perhaps via a kiosk, without visiting the front desk), retrieving guest messages using Bluetooth links and enabling in-room information services such as telephones, Internet access devices, printers, fax machines and so on with Bluetooth wireless communication, allowing them to be used with personal portable devices that the hotel guest brings along. Even the use of Bluetooth wireless communications to open special Bluetooth door locks on hotel room doors has been demonstrated.
In-home networks are becoming more common as people want to enhance their convenience, security and safety at home and use their personal devices in home environments (as well as elsewhere). Bluetooth technology can be especially useful in home networks because it does not require any wires to be installed in the home to allow devices to communicate. For instance, a mobile phone could be used as a cordless phone via a Bluetooth voice access point (base station), as described in the three-in-one phone usage model in our book, Bluetooth Revealed. Portable computers could be used at home through wireless dial-up networking or a data access point (similar to the LAN access profile), also described in our book. In these scenarios, Bluetooth technology offers a convenient way to use the same devices at home that are used at work, allowing people to easily access the same data and to do the same tasks (whether these be work-related or personal) in either place.
If many devices in the home (including devices such as audiovisual equipment, appliances, home security, and automation systems) happen to have Bluetooth interfaces, a personal device such as a PDA or mobile phone might be used as a "universal remote control" for all of these other devices. From a single device, using Bluetooth links, a person might be able to receive alerts that the refrigerator door was left open or the clothes dryer completed a cycle, arm the security system, control lighting in the house, and control the stereo and television.