A Brief Description of Bluetooth Technology

If you've never read a brief description of Bluetooth technology, you may feel that the newest innovation in wireless communication is beyond your understanding. However, with a few basic facts, even the most technologically challenged person can gain an understanding of what Bluetooth is and what it does.

What Is Bluetooth Technology?
Bluetooth is a technology developed to replace cables and wires between devices such as cell phones, computers, keyboards and GPS systems, among others. It is a communication protocol that uses radio frequencies to establish common talking points between compatible devices. All Bluetooth communications take place in the 2.4 GHz band, which is used only for electronic devices and appliances.

Many people refer to a Bluetooth adapter, a Bluetooth headset or a Bluetooth printer, but these devices are actually Bluetooth-compatible. A Bluetooth device has a computer chip that sends out radio signals, detects other signals and links them together on a set radio frequency. The connection jumps from frequency to frequency (known as spread-spectrum frequency hopping) thousands of times per second at random. This eliminates interference and increases security.

How Does It Really Work?
Bluetooth technology can be understood best with a concrete example. If a cell phone has a Bluetooth chip inside it and a hands-free headset is also Bluetooth compatible, they can operate together without cords or cables. The user turns on the Bluetooth ability on the phone through its settings menu, and the phone sends out a signal. The headset must be turned to the Detect or Scan mode to look for signals. When the signal is detected (the name of the phone should appear), the user can lock in that signal on the headset. With the Bluetooth connection enabled, the user can use the headset just like a cell phone to take and receive calls.

Frequency hopping sends the signal out in short bursts across several different radio frequencies. This allows for secure communication, because only the two linked devices know the pattern to unscramble the signal.

What's the Range?
As long as there are at least two Bluetooth-compatible devices, they can set up a network and sync up to each other. The range of this network is purposefully designed to be limited so that the devices won't use too much power. Most Bluetooth devices will stay in contact to a range of 30 feet. Most Bluetooth devices operate with others that are within 30 feet, although you can find high-power Bluetooth devices that work to a range of 100 feet.

So Why Is It Called Bluetooth?
The original Bluetooth standard was developed by Swedish engineers Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson. They named their communication system after Medieval Danish King Harald "Bluetooth" Blaatand, who first unified Denmark and Norway. The name is symbolic of the bridging of telephone and PC technologies.

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