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Bluetooth Technology Possibilities

The Bluetooth specification version 1.0 (available at http://www.bluetooth.com/) includes a large section consisting of profiles, which are formalized usage cases intended to promote interoperability (profiles are discussed in more depth in my article "Interoperability Through Profiles"—several chapters in my book Bluetooth Revealed, co-authored with Chatschik Bisdikian, also address profiles). Many of the version 1.0 profiles deal with "cable-replacement" scenarios. Examples of cable-replacement applications include these:

  • Dial-up networking—Here Bluetooth links are used to wirelessly connect a computer with a mobile telephone. The mobile phone acts as a wireless data modem for accessing a network such as the Internet.

  • Headset—In this usage scenario, a wireless headset is used in conjunction with a mobile phone for voice conversations. Here Bluetooth communication replaces the cable between the phone and the headset that is commonly used today.

  • Serial port—The serial port profile defines the wireless equivalent of a cabled RS-232-style interface. In this application, Bluetooth technology can be used in many scenarios where a serial interface is present, such as with modems, printers, PDA communication cradles, and so on.

Other cable-replacement profiles are defined in the specification. In general, these scenarios tend to be relatively basic and simple, with the primary added value of Bluetooth technology being the capability to perform common computing and communications tasks without using cables and wires.

Version 1.0 of the specification purposely focused on the simpler cable-replacement applications. However, Bluetooth technology can be employed in other ways, some more complex and potentially more interesting. Examples of more advanced applications not covered in the version 1.0 specification are given here; my paper "Bluetooth Applications in Pervasive Computing" describes these and other scenarios in more detail.

  • "Universal remote"—If Bluetooth technology becomes common in consumer electronics, appliances, and other household goods, a device (say, a PDA or a mobile phone) might be used as a "universal remote" to control televisions, stereos, washers, security cameras, and so on.

  • Scatternets—The concept of a "scatternet," or multiple overlapping Bluetooth piconets, is not fully explored in the version 1.0 specification. In the future, however, when two or more separate piconets (say, a home network, a personal area network, and an automobile network) can communicate with each other, many exciting applications present themselves. Among these are the capability to synchronize data across networks, to communicate status information from one network to another where it might be processed (for example, sending a reminder to a device in a personal area network from a car network indicating that the car is due for an oil change), or to "borrow" the capabilities of a device in another piconet (perhaps using the display of a television in a home network to display an image received on a mobile phone that has limited display capabilities).

  • Mobile transactions—In the future, personal devices with Bluetooth wireless communication could be used to get information in public places (such as shopping malls and stadiums), to pay for retail transactions in these types of venues and to identify and even locate people (say, in an airport), when the user chooses to enable such functions.

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