Bluetooth Technology Tutorial

- Bluetooth is widely used as a short range data communications platform for connecting many devices from mobile phones to headphones, and computer mice to computers for many applications including music and audio streaming. Discover how it works in our tutorial.

Bluetooth technology has now established itself in the market place enabling a variety of devices to be connected together using wireless technology.

Bluetooth technology has come into its own connecting remote headsets to mobile phones, but it is also used in a huge number of other applications as well.

In fact the development of Bluetooth technology has progressed so that it is now an integral part of many household items. Cell phones and many other devices use Bluetooth for short range connectivity. In this sort of application, Bluetooth has been a significant success.

Image of a Bluetooth earpiece typical of the ones used to connect to mobile phones for hands free operation.
Typical Bluetooth earpiece used with cell phones

History of Bluetooth technology & Bluetooth SIG

The Bluetooth history dates back to 1994 when Ericsson came up with a concept to use a wireless connection to connect items such as an earphone and a cordless headset and the mobile phone. The idea behind Bluetooth (it was not yet called Bluetooth) was developed further as the possibilities of interconnections with a variety of other peripherals such as computers printers, phones and more were realised. Using this technology, the possibility of quick and easy connections between electronic devices should be possible.

It was decided that in order to enable the development of Bluetooth technology to move forward and be accepted, it needed to be opened up as an industry standard. Accordingly, in Feb 1998, five companies (Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Toshiba and Intel) formed the Bluetooth SIG - Special Interest Group.

The history of Bluetooth shows the Bluetooth SIG grew very rapidly, because by the end of 1998 it welcomed its 400th member.

The Bluetooth SIG also worked rapidly on the development of Bluetooth technology. Three months after the formation of the special interest group - it was not yet known as the Bluetooth SIG, the name Bluetooth was adopted.

The following year the first full release of the standard occurred in July 1999.

The Bluetooth SIG performs a number of functions:

  • Publish and update the Bluetooth specifications
  • Administer the qualification programme
  • Protect Bluetooth trademarks
  • Evangelise Bluetooth technology

The Bluetooth SIG global headquarters is in Kirkland, Washington, USA and there are local offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, China; Seoul, Korea; Minato-Ku, Tokyo; Taiwan; and Malmo, Sweden.

The name Bluetooth

The name of the Bluetooth standard originates from the Danish king Harald Blåtand who was king of Denmark between 940 and 981 AD. His name translates as "Blue Tooth" and this was used as his nickname. A brave warrior, his main achievement was that of uniting Denmark under the banner of Christianity, and then uniting it with Norway that he had conquered. The Bluetooth standard was named after him because Bluetooth endeavours to unite personal computing and telecommunications devices.

Bluetooth standard releases

There have been many releases of the Bluetooth standard as updates have been made to ensure it keeps pace with the current technology and the needs of the users.


Bluetooth Standard Releases & Timeline History
Bluetooth
standard
version
Release date Key features of version
1.0 July 1999 Draft version of the Bluetooth standard
1.0a July 1999 First published version of the Bluetooth standard
1.0b Dec 1999 Small updates to cure minor problems and issues
1.0b + CE Nov 2000 Critical Errata added to issue 1.0b of the Bluetooth standard
1.1 February 2001 First useable release. It was used by the IEEE for their standard IEEE 802.15.1 - 2002.
1.2 Nov 2003 This release of the Bluetooth standard added new facilities including frequency hopping and eSCO for improved voice performance. Was released by the IEEE as IEEE 802.15.1 - 2005. This was the last version issued by IEEE.
2.0 + EDR Nov 2004 This version of the Bluetooth standard added the enhanced data rate (EDR) to increase the throughput to 3.0 Mbps raw data rate. Read more about Bluetooth 2.
2.1 July 2007 This version of the Bluetooth standard added secure simple pairing to improve security.
3.0 + HS Apr 2009 Bluetooth 3 added IEEE 802.11 as a high speed channel to increase the data rate to 10+ Mbps
4.0 Dec 2009 The Bluetooth standard was updated to include Bluetooth Low Energy formerly known as Wibree

Bluetooth basics

The first release of Bluetooth was for a wireless data system that could carry data at speeds up to 721 Kbps with the addition of up to three voice channels. The aim of Bluetooth technology was to enable users to replace cables between devices such as printers, fax machines, desktop computers and peripherals, and a host of other digital devices. One major use was for wirelessly connecting headsets for to mobile phones, allowing people to use small headsets rather than having to speak directly into the phone.

Another application of Bluetooth technology was to provide a connection between an ad hoc wireless network and existing wired data networks.

The technology was intended to be placed in a low cost module that could be easily incorporated into electronics devices of all sorts. Bluetooth uses the licence free Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band for its radio signals and enables communications to be established between devices up to a maximum distance of around 100 metres, although much shorter distances were more normal..

Bluetooth is well established, but despite this further enhancements are being introduced. Faster data transfer rates, and greater flexibility. In addition to this efforts have been made to ensure that interoperation has been improved so that devices from different manufacturers can talk together more easily.

By Ian Poole


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