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Handheld devices like a cell phone, palmtop and laptop were rapidly becoming an integral part of our daily lives. In most cases, these devices do not have compatible data communication interfaces, or, if they do, the interface requires cumbersome cable connections and configuration procedures. Isn’t it absolutely fantastic to connect your PC to share music, data and calendar info without using any wires? Or to wirelessly access phone numbers on your PDA from your cell phone. Driving without holding the handset makes it dramatically safer and easier. Accessing the internet, print files from your computer and print photos taken from a digital camera without a single piece of wire lying in your office.
An obvious solution was to get rid of the cables and use short-range, wireless, inexpensive and universally adopted by device vendors to facilitate on-demand connectivity among devices .The marvel of engineering gave us the freedom of exchanging data without using yards of wires and popularly known as Bluetooth. It all started back in 1994 when Ericsson Mobile Communications began a utilitarian assessment on an inexpensive low-power radio solution between cell phones and phone accessories. The idea was to build a small radio both in cellular phones and laptop that would replace the cumbersome wires between them. Four years later Ericsson, along with Nokia, IBM, Toshiba and Intel formed the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). These were the leading companies in the field of mobiles, notebook computers and leaders in the digital market technology. With such big names of the field it immediately grabbed the media attention and there were very high expectations from the product. But a lot of complexities and problems were faced initially. Then in 1999 first Bluetooth spec 1.0 was launched and a year later spec 1.1. Today, the Bluetooth SIG has 3,400 companies.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for connecting fixed or mobile devices using short radio link. It aims at providing wireless communication along with small size, minimal power consumption and low price. The technology was designed to be simple, and the target was to have it become standard in wireless connectivity. The name of Bluetooth has a very interesting story. The Bluetooth SIG adopted the code name as a tribute to the tenth-century Viking king Harald Blatand who peacefully united numerous small kingdoms under his region that were working under different rules same as done in Bluetooth technology. Harald liked to eat blueberries, which gave his teeth the coloration that lead to the nickname "Bluetooth."The symbol is also famous as its name and has a very interesting origin. The logo combines the representation of the Nordic runes Hagalaz (transcribed by 'H') and Berkana (transcribed by 'B') in the same symbol. This is, HB like Harald Blatand.
What makes Bluetooth special when wireless technologies like IrDA and Wi-Fi existed?
Pitting these technologies against each other would be unfair as each of them have their unique advantages and complement rather than compete with each other. Though IrDA supported wireless connectivity they needed optical contact that is direct line of sight and supported one to one data exchange using infra-red light. For example a remote control and television where we need to hold remote in line of sight of television. In the same way Wi-Fi offers a means to wirelessly connect one or more computers to each other and a router so that we can access the Internet. It uses longer distances and transfer data at faster rate as well but Bluetooth offers a means to link not just computers, but PDAs, headphones, headsets, printers and other technology with each other. The figure below represents the three networks.
“Wireless communication made easy” a tag line used to address Bluetooth but it is only for users not for the developers. The demands of creating Bluetooth-enabled products are very challenging. It should be flexible application topology so the exchange takes place between the required devices. Power required by Bluetooth should be low as no one wants a short battery life. Size is a important feature while designing. It should be small so adding Bluetooth capability to a device should not noticeably increase its size. A Quality of service is supported for voice and last but not the least Bluetooth cannot cost more than cables.