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Bluetooth: Unifying the Telecommunications and Computing Industries

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Examine how Bluetooth wireless technology is setting the stage for the next step in the information technology revolution. Learn about the Personal Area Network (PAN), piconets and scatternets, and how Bluetooth will enable devices to communicate seamlessly through a standardized communications subsystem.
This chapter is from the book

1.1 Introduction

Bluetooth has been the subject of much hype and media attention over the last couple of years. As various manufacturers prepare to launch products using Bluetooth technology, an unsuspecting public is about to be catapulted into the next stage of the information technology revolution.

Bluetooth is a low cost, low power, short range radio technology, originally developed as a cable replacement to connect devices such as mobile phone handsets, headsets, and portable computers. This in itself sounds relatively innocuous; however, by enabling standardised wireless communications between any electrical devices, Bluetooth has created the notion of a Personal Area Network (PAN), a kind of close range wireless network that looks set to revolutionise the way people interact with the information technology landscape around them.

No longer do people need to connect, plug into, install, enable, or configure anything to anything else. Through a ubiquitous standardised communications subsystem, devices will communicate seamlessly. One does not need to know where one's cellular phone is, or even if it is switched on. As soon as the Web browser appears on the mobile computer screen, a link is established with the phone the Internet Service Provider is connected to, and the user is surfing the Web.

The Bluetooth specification is an open, global specification defining the complete system from the radio right up to the application level. The protocol stack is usually implemented partly in hardware and partly as software running on a microprocessor, with different implementations partitioning the functionality between hardware and software in different ways.

1.1.1 Bluetooth's Origins

Version 1.0 of the Bluetooth specification came out in 1999, but Bluetooth started five years earlier, in 1994, when Ericsson Mobile Communications began a study to examine alternatives to the cables that linked its mobile phones with accessories. The study looked at using radio links. Radio isn't directional, and it doesn't need line of sight, so it has obvious advantages over the infra-red links previously used between handsets and devices. There were many requirements for the study, including handling both speech and data, so that it could connect phones to both headsets and computing devices.

Out of this study was born the specification for Bluetooth wireless technology. The specification is named after Harald Blatand (Blatand is Danish for Bluetooth), Harald was a tenth-century Danish Viking king who united and controlled Denmark and Norway. The name was adopted because Bluetooth wireless technology is expected to unify the telecommunications and computing industries.

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