Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows two digital devices to communicate with one another. Whenever there is the need for devices to communicate, such as wireless keyboards with a computer, or a digital headset with a phone, there are two basic functions that need to be fulfilled: first, there will need to be set parameters on how much information, or data, will be sent between the devices; and second, there will need to be a method of communication, known as a protocol, that allows both devices to understand the information being sent (Bisdikian 86).
Bluetooth is able to resolve these issues by incorporating both a physical and digital layer. Bluetooth operates on the radio-frequency standard, which means that the information being sent is actually carried on radio waves. The exact frequency is 2.45 GHz (Haartsen 30). Using a standardized frequency ensures that the information is not disrupted by other types of wireless information that may be in the air; for instance, playing a radio, using a cell phone, or receiving satellite television signals will not disrupt a Bluetooth connection, because this information is being sent on a different frequency. This information is digitally sent and received through its protocol system, which allows the two devices to be aligned, ensuring that the information being sent is interpreted correctly. The device sending the information is known as the master, while the device receiving the information is known as a slave. One master can control as many as eight different slaves, so Bluetooth is capable of connecting multiple devices at any given time, which is one of its main advantages. Once the devices are connected, they can remain connected without having to constantly create a connection manually.
The average range of a Bluetooth signal is around 30 feet, so this form of wireless technology is ideal for short-range communications. However, there are stronger Bluetooth devices capable of transmitting signals up to 300 feet, and these are most often used for larger business and commercial needs, such as in a warehouse (Heydon 29).
An additional primary advantage of Bluetooth over other wireless communications, such as WiFi, is that it requires remarkably little power to operate (Heydon 30). This ensures that using a Bluetooth headset connected to a mobile phone does not drain the battery too quickly. The low power usage is made possible by Bluetooth’s reliance on a radio standard. Another advantage of Bluetooth over wireless technologies, such as infrared (IR) is that it does not require a direct line of sight between master and slave. Whereas objects such as television remotes require pointing the remote directly at the television, a Bluetooth connection does not require that the slave does not need to be pointed at the master.
Bluetooth is therefore ideal for many forms of short-range wireless communications, and many of us who use wireless devices are most likely already using this form of technology in our daily lives. For instance, a wireless mouse and keyboard will most often use Bluetooth technology, as will various video game controllers that connect to a console. Bluetooth headsets, which connect to a mobile phone, are also frequently used for hands-free operation of these devices. Bluetooth is somewhat limited in the amount of data that can be transferred, so it is not a perfect solution for all wireless needs. However, its low power consumption and ability to transmit enough data for basic functions makes it the preferred method for many types of wireless connections. The use of a radio standard ensures that connection between the devices should remain strong, while the use of digital processing within both the master and slave will ensure that the process of data transfer is nearly instant, without a significant loss of speed.
- Bisdikian, Chatschik. “An overview of the Bluetooth wireless technology.” IEEE Communications magazine 39.12 (2012): 86-94.
- Haartsen, Jaap C. “The Bluetooth radio system.” IEEE personal communications 7.1 (2010): 28-36.
- Heydon, Robin. Bluetooth low energy: the developer’s handbook. Vol. 1. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2013.