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 14,000 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 are required to implement the technology and are only licensed to those qualifying devices; thus the protocol, whilst open, may be regarded as proprietary.
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 implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard.
The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune merging the Younger Futhark runes (Hagall) (ᚼ) and (Bjarkan) (ᛒ), Harald’s initials.
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 bands (1 MHz each; centered from 2402 to 2480 MHz) in the range 2,400-2,483.5 MHz (allowing for guard bands). This range is in the globally unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency band.
Originally Gaussian frequency-shift keying (GFSK) modulation was the only modulation scheme available; subsequently, since the introduction of Bluetooth 2.0+EDR, π/4-DQPSK and 8DPSK modulation may also be used between compatible devices. Devices functioning with GFSK are said to be operating in basic rate (BR) mode where an instantaneous data rate of 1 Mbit/s is possible. The term Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) is used to describe π/4-DPSK and 8DPSK schemes, each giving 2 and 3 Mbit/s respectively. The combination of these (BR and EDR) modes in Bluetooth radio technology is classified as a “BR/EDR radio”.
Bluetooth is a packet-based protocol with a master-slave structure. One master may communicate with up to 7 slaves in a piconet; all devices share the master’s clock. Packet exchange is based on the basic clock, defined by the master, which ticks at 312.5 µs intervals. Two clock ticks make up a slot of 625 µs; two slots make up a slot pair of 1250 µs. In the simple case of single-slot packets the master transmits in even slots and receives in odd slots; the slave, conversely, receives in even slots and transmits in odd slots. Packets may be 1, 3 or 5 slots long but in all cases the master transmit will begin in even slots and the slave transmit in odd slots.
Bluetooth provides a secure way to connect and exchange information between devices such as faxes, mobile phones, telephones, laptops, personal computers, printers, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital cameras, and video game consoles.
Communication and connection
A master Bluetooth device can communicate with a maximum of seven devices in a piconet (an ad-hoc computer network using Bluetooth technology), though not all devices support this limit. The devices can switch roles, by agreement, and the slave can become the master (for example, a headset initiating a connection to a phone will necessarily begin as master, as initiator of the connection; but may subsequently prefer to be slave).
The Bluetooth Core Specification provides for the connection of two or more piconets to form a scatternet, in which certain devices simultaneously play the master role in one piconet and the slave role in another.
At any given time, data can be transferred between the master and one other device (except for the little-used broadcast mode). The master chooses which slave device to address; typically, it switches rapidly from one device to another in a round-robin fashion. Since it is the master that chooses which slave to address, whereas a slave is (in theory) supposed to listen in each receive slot, being a master is a lighter burden than being a slave. Being a master of seven slaves is possible; being a slave of more than one master is difficult. The specification is vague as to required behaviour in scatternets.
Many USB Bluetooth adapters or “dongles” are available, some of which also include an IrDA adapter. Older (pre-2003) Bluetooth dongles, however, have limited capabilities, offering only the Bluetooth Enumerator and a less-powerful Bluetooth Radio incarnation. Such devices can link computers with Bluetooth with a distance of 100 meters, but they do not offer as many services as modern adapters do.
Bluetooth is a standard wire-replacement communications protocol primarily designed for low power consumption, with a short range (power-class-dependent, but effective ranges vary in practice; see table below) based on low-cost transceiver microchips in each device. Because the devices use a radio (broadcast) communications system, they do not have to be in visual line of sight of each other, however a quasi optical wireless path must be viable.
Class Maximum permitted power Range
Class 1 100 20 ~100
Class 2 2.5 4 ~10
Class 3 1 0 ~5
The effective range varies due to propagation conditions, material coverage, production sample variations, antenna configurations and battery conditions. In most cases the effective range of class 2 devices is extended if they connect to a class 1 transceiver, compared to a pure class 2 network. This is accomplished by the higher sensitivity and transmission power of Class 1 devices.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have many applications: setting up networks, printing, or transferring files.
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 was 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 setting and can also support fixed location applications such as smart energy functionality in the home (thermostats, etc.).
Wi-Fi is a wireless version of 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 faster connection and better range from the base station. The nearest equivalents in Bluetooth are the DUN profile, which allows devices to act as modem interfaces, and the PAN profile, which allows for ad-hoc networkin