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Bluetooth

Bluetooth is an open wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs). It was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.

Implementation

Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which chops up the data being sent and transmits chunks of it on up to 79 frequencies. In its basic mode, the modulation is Gaussian frequency-shift keying (GFSK). It can achieve a gross data rate of 1 Mb/s. Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones, telephones, laptops, personal computers, printers, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital cameras, and video game consoles through a secure, globally unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency bandwidth. The Bluetooth specifications are developed and licensed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The Bluetooth SIG consists of companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics.

Uses

Bluetooth is a standard and communications protocol primarily designed for low power consumption, with a short range (power-class-dependent: 1 meter, 10 meters, 100 meters) based on low-cost transceiver microchips in each device. Bluetooth makes it possible for these devices to communicate with each other when they are in range. Because the devices use a radio (broadcast) communications system, they do not have to be in line of sight of each other.

List of applications

  • Wireless control of and communication between a mobile phone and a hands-free headset. This was one of the earliest applications to become popular.
  • Wireless networking between PCs in a confined space and where little bandwidth is required.
  • Wireless communication with PC input and output devices, the most common being the mouse, keyboard and printer.
  • Transfer of files, contact details, calendar appointments, and reminders between devices with OBEX.
  • Replacement of traditional wired serial communications in test equipment, GPS receivers, medical equipment, bar code scanners, and traffic control devices.
  • For controls where infrared was traditionally used.
  • For low bandwidth applications where higher [USB] bandwidth is not required and cable-free connection desired.
  • Sending small advertisements from Bluetooth-enabled advertising hoardings to other, discoverable, Bluetooth devices.
  • Two seventh-generation game consoles, Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3, use Bluetooth for their respective wireless controllers.
  • Dial-up internet access on personal computers or PDAs using a data-capable mobile phone as a modem.

Bluetooth IEEE 802.15.1 vs. Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 in networking

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have many applications in today's offices, homes, and on the move: setting up networks, printing, or transferring presentations and files from PDAs to computers. Both are versions of unlicensed wireless technology.

Wi-Fi is intended for resident equipment and its applications. The category of applications is outlined as WLAN, the wireless local area networks. Wi-Fi is intended as a replacement for cabling for general local area network access in work areas.

Bluetooth is intended for non resident equipment and its applications. The category of applications is outlined as the wireless personal area network (WPAN). Bluetooth is a replacement for cabling in a variety of personally carried applications in any ambience.

Bluetooth devices

Bluetooth exists in many products, such as telephones, the Wii, PlayStation 3, Lego Mindstorms NXT and recently in some high definition watches, modems and headsets. The technology is useful when transferring information between two or more devices that are near each other in low-bandwidth situations. Bluetooth is commonly used to transfer sound data with telephones (i.e., with a Bluetooth headset) or byte data with hand-held computers (transferring files).

Bluetooth protocols simplify the discovery and setup of services between devices. Bluetooth devices can advertise all of the services they provide. This makes using services easier because more of the security, network address and permission configuration can be automated than with many other network types.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is a traditional Ethernet network, and requires configuration to set up shared resources, transmit files, and to set up audio links (for example, headsets and hands-free devices). Wi-Fi uses the same radio frequencies as Bluetooth, but with higher power, resulting in a stronger connection. Wi-Fi is sometimes called "wireless Ethernet." This description is accurate, as it also provides an indication of its relative strengths and weaknesses. Wi-Fi requires more setup but is better suited for operating full-scale networks; it enables a faster connection, better range from the base station, and better security than Bluetooth.

Computer requirements

A personal computer must have a Bluetooth adapter in order to communicate with other Bluetooth devices (such as mobile phones, mice and keyboards). While some desktop computers and most recent laptops come with a built-in Bluetooth adapter, others will require an external one in the form of a dongle.

Unlike its predecessor, IrDA, which requires a separate adapter for each device, Bluetooth allows multiple devices to communicate with a computer over a single adapter.

Bluetooth started as:

1. Bluetooth 1.0 and 1.0B

2. Bluetooth 1.1

3. Bluetooth 1.2

4. Bluetooth 2.0

5. Bluetooth 2.1

6. Bluetooth 3.0

7. Bluetooth low energy

8. Future

  • Broadcast Channel: enables Bluetooth information points. This will drive the adoption of Bluetooth into mobile phones, and enable advertising models based around users pulling information from the information points, and not based around the object push model that is used in a limited way today.
  • Topology Management: enables the automatic configuration of the piconet topologies especially in scatternet situations that are becoming more common today. This should all be invisible to the users of the technology, while also making the technology just work.
  • QoS improvements: enable audio and video data to be transmitted at a higher quality, especially when best effort traffic is being transmitted in the same piconet.

Communication and connection

A master Bluetooth device can communicate with up to seven devices in a Wireless User Group. This network group of up to eight devices is called a piconet.

A piconet is an ad-hoc computer network, using Bluetooth technology protocols to allow one master device to interconnect with up to seven active devices. Up to 255 further devices can be inactive, or parked, which the master device can bring into active status at any time.

At any given time, data can be transferred between the master and one other device, however, the devices can switch roles and the slave can become the master at any time. The master switches rapidly from one device to another in a round-robin fashion. (Simultaneous transmission from the master to multiple other devices is possible, but not used much.)

The Bluetooth specification allows connecting two or more piconets together to form a scatternet, with some devices acting as a bridge by simultaneously playing the master role in one piconet and the slave role in another.

Many USB Bluetooth adapters are available, some of which also include an IrDA adapter. Older (pre-2003) Bluetooth adapters, however, have limited services, offering only the Bluetooth Enumerator and a less-powerful Bluetooth Radio incarnation. Such devices can link computers with Bluetooth, but they do not offer much in the way of services that modern adapters do.

Health concerns

Bluetooth uses the microwave radio frequency spectrum in the 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz range. Maximum power output from a Bluetooth radio is 100 mW, 2.5 mW, and 1 mW for Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 devices respectively, which puts Class 1 at roughly the same level as mobile phones, and the other two classes much lower. Accordingly, Class 2 and Class 3 Bluetooth devices are considered less of a potential hazard than mobile phones, and Class 1 may be comparable to that of mobile phones.

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