In today’s world of high technology the ability to communicate has become more and more important but also more and difficult due to the variety of electronic devices we use in our everyday life. Who hasn’t sat on the floor of their living room, surrounded by a multitude of cables and wires, staring at the new DVD player and wondering how you were going to hook it into your present entertainment system?
And just when you figure out the confusing mess of black cable yet another invention arrives on the scene, along with yet another remote control! But wouldn’t it be so much easier if all these devices could talk to each other? What if you could sit on your couch and program your VCR using your laptop or your PDA while transferring data between the two without a plethora of extra cable coiling around your feet?
In a nutshell, Bluetooth provides the means to do exactly that provide a way for all these devices to communicate without a thousand wires and cables strung around your house.
First, you have to understand some of the basics about how your electronic devices communicate right now. While you might use remote control for your television set or perhaps a slew of wires to hook your home entertainment system up to your DVD or VHS player, all of them use the same basic principles. Information is exchanged using a variety of protocols, or programs that help your computer talk to your printer and vice versa.
The problem comes in when your printer, for example, tries to talk to your PDA. If the protocol isn’t the same on both ends a confusing mishmash of numbers will be sent and nothing will happen. While this wasn’t perceived as a major problem in the past, it’s become a major concern for companies as more and more businesses go high-tech and their employees need more and more electronic access and devices to get the job done.
The manufacturers of these devices realized that in the long term they were losing customers or not gaining new ones because of this problem of incompatibility. But what could they do? Thus Bluetooth was born a single protocol that would work for all the devices in your home, from the VCR to your laptop and to your PDA. All without miles of cables, jacks and confusing instructions as to what should be plugged in where.
Bluetooth is a small computer card that can be installed in any electronic device and which communicates on a special radio frequency that all your other items can receive, translate and understand on the same level. But wait how can you send and receive without, say, opening all of your neighbors garage doors? Or intercept other cell phone calls while leaving your own open to such misuse? Will that new baby monitor program your VCR to tape wrestling instead of your favorite soap opera?
Everyone’s been in a situation where he or she’s been driving along, listening to his or her favorite radio station and suddenly the signal cuts out, only to be replaced by another station and probably a very different music program. Local radio stations only have the frequency they’ve been assigned for as far as they can transmit; meaning that if you go out of range of the towers set up to sends the signal you will lose the radio station.
But it’s likely that the same frequency has been assigned to another radio station in another area, which is why often you don’t have to make any adjustment to your radio to have the programming change abruptly as you go from one transmitting area to the next. But you don’t have to worry about this sort of problem with Bluetooth.
The frequency that Bluetooth uses is 2.45 gigahertz, which is a bit higher on the radio band than television and radio but below that used by satellite dishes. This frequency has been designated for Bluetooth alone by an international agreement, ensuring that there will be no conflict with any other devices. No one else can create a product that transmits on the same frequency.
One of the pros and cons of Bluetooth is the limited range. A cell phone sends and receives at 3 watts while Bluetooth works at only 1 milliwatt a tiny fraction compared to your cell phone. Because of this the range is severely limited for Bluetooth devices, usually only fifteen feet or so. But this also makes it ideal for home use, where the signal can easily pass through walls and help you coordinate your devices.
By boosting the signal you can reach up to 300 feet, enabling more and more computers to be connected via the one signal. This works great for a home office or a small company where data exchange is often necessary between cell phones, PDAs, and laptop computers as well as desktops and all without wires or cables clogging up the environment!
More and more small businesses and private residences are considering Bluetooth as a way to make their lives easier and to increase either their productivity or just making life easier for the homeowner. Larger companies are creating Bluetooth groups within their own buildings or smaller area so that the employees can exchange information quicker and easier, without having to deal with protocol conflict and worrying about compatibility with each and every electronic device.
For the homeowner dealing with a large entertainment system it provides a great relief where you don’t have to sit there amid a tangled pyramid of wires and cables to rival the Space Shuttle’s insides.
True, Bluetooth has some limitations, but in the future there will be more and more advancements in this area in order to make life easier for those of us who have to deal with a plethora of electronic devices.