October 15, 2012 / IST / Science & Technology, Story.

The word “Bluetooth” is an anglicised version of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann, the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald I of Denmark and parts of Norway who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom. The idea of this name was proposed by Jim Kardach who developed a system that would allow mobile phones to communicate with computers (at the time he was reading Frans Gunnar Bengtsson’s historical novel The Long Ships about Vikings and king Harald Bluetooth). The implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard.

Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength radio transmissions in the ISM band from 2400–2480 MHz) from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs) with high levels of security. Created by telecoms vendor Ericsson in 1994,  it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.

Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which has more than 17,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The SIG oversees the development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. To be marketed as a Bluetooth device, it must be qualified to standards defined by the SIG.  A network of patents is required to implement the technology and are licensed only for those qualifying devices.


The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune merging the Younger Futhark runes Runic letter ior.svg (Hagall) (ᚼ) and Runic letter berkanan.svg (Bjarkan) (ᛒ), Harald’s initials.

The Pros and Cons of Bluetooth

People who regularly use it absolutely swear by it, especially because the data transfer speeds that are provided are very impressive. Since multiple devices can communicate with each other easily, there are hardly any compatibility issues with using it, and this makes it an even more attractive prospect. However, in spite of all this there are a few limitations to it as well, and there are a few people who feel that there are certain areas that it can improve upon.

The Advantages of Bluetooth

  • Bluetooth does not require a clear line of sight between the synced devices. This means that the devices need not be facing each other, and it is also possible to carry out transfers when both the devices are in separate rooms.
  • The fact that this technology requires no cables and wires is something that has made it so popular. With so many devices engulfing our lives today, the need for clutter-free technology is becoming more intense.
  • The maximum range that it offers is 100 meters, but this range is not the same for all similar connections. It depends on the nature of the devices and the version that they operate upon.
  • The processing power and battery power that it requires in order to operate is very low. This makes it an ideal tool for so many electronic devices, as the technology can be implemented pretty much anywhere.
  • One major advantage is its simplicity of use. Anyone can figure out how to set up a connection and sync two devices with ease. Moreover, the technology is completely free to use and requires no charges to be paid to any service provider.
  • The chances of other wireless networks interfering with yours are very low. This is because of the low powered wireless signals that the technology adopts, and also because of something known as frequency hopping.

The Disadvantages of Bluetooth

  • Though the transfer speeds are impressive at around 1 Mbps, certain other technologies like Infrared can offer speeds up to 4 Mbps. This is an area that can be improved on in the near future.
  • Even though the security is good, it is even better on Infrared. This is because of the comparatively larger range of Bluetooth and also the lack of a line of sight. Someone who knows how to hack such networks can do so eventually.
  • The battery usage during a single transfer is negligible, but there are some people who leave the device switched on in their devices. This inevitably eats into the battery of these devices, and lowers the battery life considerably.

Ultimately the points are fairly uneven, and the benefits of the technology easily outweigh any negative aspects. Bluetooth is widely used by millions of people from all around the world, and it is sure to spread even further as time goes by. The ease of use and convenience that it offers is unmatched, and it is only a matter of time before every single gadget and electronic device in our home makes use of this technology.