A Simple Bluetooth Definition

Any Bluetooth definition needs to consider the multiple functions that a Bluetooth device performs. You might think of Bluetooth as a type of wireless connection; while that's true, it's only part of what the technology does.

Communicator and Translator
When Bluetooth creators Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson wrote the first specifications for their technology in 1994, they gave it the name Bluetooth in honor of Danish King Harald I Bluetooth. King Harald was the first to unite the warring tribes of Denmark and Norway into a single group. Haartsen and Mattisson wanted their technology to do the same for cell phones and personal computers.

The translation aspects are just as important as the Bluetooth wireless capability. Bluetooth enables wireless communication between devices, generally to a range of 30 feet. But it also allows devices from different manufacturers to talk to each other, which isn't as easy as it sounds.

Because a computer chip can handle different types of data, manufacturers of electronic devices have all developed their own methods of processing data. Think about a letter written in Microsoft Word. While the words in the letter stay the same on different computers and printers, the way those words are decoded and displayed will be very different. A Mac, a Windows PC, a Blackberry and a printer will all need different sets of instructions to display the letter. As a result, a letter written on a Mac won't display correctly on a Blackberry or a PC without some form of translation.

Bluetooth performs this translation by defining a universal language for data transmission as part of its specification. Electronics that are Bluetooth compliant allow their unique data language to be converted to the universal Bluetooth language so that it can be shared with other devices. This lets manufacturers keep their proprietary data systems while allowing their products to run on a Bluetooth network.

Defining Bluetooth
To truly understand all that Bluetooth does, it helps to think of it as a wireless communication system that translates data into a universal format. Most users are only interested in having a reliable and interference-free wireless connection, but it's the translation abilities of Bluetooth that make the technology remarkable.

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