Jaap Haartsen is the inventor of Bluetooth. He is a Mechanical Engineer who worked for the Ericsson communications company while he was developing Bluetooth technology. Through this achievement, Haartsen has made a significant contribution to the worlds of technology, mathematics and to society. Many of the technologies we depend on today would be far behind where they are if not for Haartsen.

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Jaap Haartsen is a mechanical engineer. He best known as the inventor, or as the father, of Bluetooth, a radio wave that functions as a wireless connection between electronic devices (Ericsson, 2012). He is a former employ of the communications development company Ericsson.
Jaap Haartsen was born on February 13, 1963 in the Netherlands in Hague. He completed his undergrad at a young age and went on to achieve his master’s degree as an electrical engineer in 1986 (National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2014). Soon after, he received his PH.D in the same. Through all of this, Haartsen studied at the University of Delft. Haartsen has put his studies to use for the last 25 years and more focusing on the development of wireless communications (Mosqueda, 2015).

Haartsen’s first endeavor on his wireless communications journey was to try to improve the functions of mobile phones by fixing connections of short-wave radios (National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2014). In 1998, with Bluetooth technology a newly developing system, Haartsen helped to form the Bluetooth Special Interest group. Today, Promoter members of the Bluetooth Special Interest group include companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Lenovo and IBM. At the time of BSI’s founding, Haartsen was working for Ericsson, a communications company.

Haartsen, in connection with Ericsson, is largely credited for the invention of Bluetooth. First developed in an Ericsson lad in Sweden in the early 1990s, Bluetooth is a low-frequency wave that runs peer-to-peer. Essentially, Bluetooth is a radio wave that serves the same function as cords for speakers, remote controls, and other devices. From 1998-2000, Haartsen served as chairmen of the Air Protocol Specifications group (Mosqueda, 2015). While serving in this role, he was able to gain worldwide regulatory approval for Bluetooth. Jaap Haartsen, along with Sven Mattisson and other Ericsson engineers, brought Bluetooth from an unwieldy concept in the early 1990s to a working invention by 1998 (Ericsson, 2012).

As previously stated, Bluetooth is a low-range radio frequency. It operates at 2.45 GHz, the same waves that Wi-Fi, cell-phones and microwaves (Yuan, 2005). Bluetooth typically has a range of no more than 32 feet, and a data rate of about 700kbps. For communication device equipped with Bluetooth is assigned a 48-bit address. This comes from the IEEE 802 standard (Mobile Info, 2001). Bluetooth connections do not have to be one-on-one, one address can connect to numerous others at one time. Bluetooth devices avoid radio interference by changing their radio frequency at a rate of up to 1600 times per second (Mobile Info, 2001). Devices with Bluetooth are categorized according to three different levels of power. The first has a maximum output of 100 mW with 20 dBm. The second has a maximum of 2.5 mW with 4dBm, and the third’s output is at 1 mW with 0dBm (Mobile Info, 2001).

Bluetooth functions as a universal connector between devices and data networks, an interface that can communicate with numerous devices, as well as a mechanism to form ad hoc connections between devices not connected with larger networks (Mobile Info, 2001). It makes its link strong in areas with high levels of frequency by using a fast acknowledgement scheme and the aforementioned frequency hopping (Mobile Info). All of this combines to make a high functioning, smooth working, and easy to use connector between devices.

Haartsen’s development of Bluetooth contributed to mathematics in a new way. It developed the understanding of how radio waves can be manipulated, and how they can be used to connect devices, particularly in regards to wave frequency. Haartsen was at the forefront of developing devices that could manipulate wave frequency. He was able to develop devices that could run at low frequencies, and change frequencies in order to avoid radio interference; and he was able to use these devices as wireless connectors between mobile phones, computers and many of devices. The functionality of both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have benefitted from Haartsen’s work.

Bluetooth is a staple of modern technology. And yet, few people truly understand how it works. Because of the impact technology has on everyday life, I am interested to understand how all technology works. This applies particularly in regards to Bluetooth. People tend to think of Bluetooth as a wireless connection, and leave it at that. I wanted to know how the connection works. I was fascinated to discover that it used radio frequency. Many people think that Bluetooth is just a function of cellular networks or Wi-Fi. What fascinates me is that while it is closely related to Wi-Fi, the two are distinct; they use the same radio frequency, but Bluetooth is not dependent on Wi-Fi. Nearly every electronic device today is equipped with Bluetooth, and yet, few people have ever heard of Jaap Haartsen. We all know the names of the founders of Microsoft and Apple, but not of the man who developed a technology that both Apple and Microsoft use immensely. Without Jaap Haartsen, it is difficult to say where Bluetooth would be. And without Bluetooth, it is difficult to say where Microsoft, Apple, and all of technology would be.

  • Ericsson. 2012. Bluetooth inventor nominated for top European honor. Retrieved from http://www.ericsson.com/news/120612_bluetooth_inventor_nominated_for_top_european_honor_244159019_c
  • Mobile Info. 2001. How Bluetooth Technology Works. Retrieved from http://www.mobileinfo.com/bluetooth/how_works.htm
  • Mosqueda, Woody. 2015. Blutooth Inventor And Plantronics Wireless expert Named Into National Inventors Hall Of Fame. Plantronics. Retrieved from http://newsroom.plantronics.com/press-release/us/bluetooth-inventor-and-plantronics-wireless-expert-named-national-inventors-hall-fa
  • National Inventors Hall of Fame. 2014. Jaap C. Haartsen. Retrieved from http://invent.org/inductees/haartsen-jaap/
  • Yuan, Michael Juntao. 2005. What Is Bluetooth. Retrieved from http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2005/11/18/what-is-bluetooth.html?page=3