Bluetooth is a word we hear often. Many people know that it is something that helps connect different devices. More than that, most people don’t think about Bluetooth. But the fact is that Bluetooth is a pretty exciting subject. So how does Bluetooth work? Why is it used?
Do you own a smartphone, laptop, tablet or pair of wireless headphones? Then you have probably used Bluetooth at some point. This is a short connection between two electronic devices that takes place wirelessly. This connection often applies to a mobile and a pair of wireless headphones or a computer with wireless keyboard or mouse. Bluetooth is what handles the transfer of information between different devices. Communication is done through radio waves with a frequency of 2.4 GHz, the same frequency as WIFI connection.
When was Bluetooth launched?
Already in 1989, the makers of the service came up with the idea of creating a short-link standard for transmitting signals. The first version, 1.0, was launched 1999. The first versions of Bluetooth were known to have bugs, but still became an important cornerstone of what the technology was going to become.
The first version of the technology managed communication at a speed of at least 721 kbit/s. Later versions have become faster and the version that came out in 2004 increased the maximum speed to about 3 Mbit/s.
Communication is established between two units where one can partake of the information in the other, but there are risks regarding information security when two units are connected. Therefore, it’s important to double-check which unit the phone or computer is connected to, which oftentimes can be done by just checking the name of the unit.
- Bluetooth is a wireless connection between two units.
- Usually used between headphones and phone or a computer and keyboard.
- First version was released in 1999 by Ericsson.
- Bluetooth 5.0 was released 2016 and is the most used the most right now.
- Bluetooth uses technology that handles transfer through radio waves.
- Security in connecting through Bluetooth is highly debated.
How does Bluetooth work and how is it used?
Many people believe that Bluetooth is the same as infrared radiation. However, this is not the case at all. The technology is a connection via radio waves. These radio waves are at a frequency between 2.4 and 2.485 GHz. WiFi connection is at about the same frequency.
So what is Bluetooth used for? Usually it is a connection between a mobile and a pair of wireless headphones or a speaker that you connect to and play music from wirelessly. Another common area of use is if you have a laptop and connect it to a wireless mouse or wireless desk.
There have been many new versions since the technology was released but despite this many new devices still use older versions of Bluetooth, which works without any problems whatsoever.
Because the technology uses as little as 0.001-0.5 watts, Bluetooth draws very little battery. Therefore, you can keep your Bluetooth running smoothly without worrying about draining the battery.
Bluetooth SIG or the Bluetooth Special Interest Group is pushing the development of Bluetooth forward, but the real developers Ericsson was the first to release the technology. Ericsson still has a lot of input on new membership in the group but now with other players.
Why is it called Bluetooth?
So how come a technical standard was called Bluetooth, or Blåtand if you want to use the Swedish name. The name actually came from Jim Kardach’s fascination with the book röde orm. In the book you can read about Harald Blåtand and how he joined various tribes of Vikings around the kingdom. A bit like the technology behind Bluetooth combining different devices. Because of this, Jim chose to call the service Bluetooth. The direct translation of Blåtand, ie Bluetooth, then became the well-known name.
The Bluetooth logo then became a combination of Harald Blåtand’s initials written in run script.
Is Bluetooth secure?
There have been countless debates whether how easy or hard it should be to connect two units via Bluetooth, and therefore many actions have been taken to limit the possibility to steal information through Bluetooth. However, as in many other cases, it’s a balance between simplicity and security.
Information security is a growing interest in the digitalization of our society. To connect two units to each other makes the day easier for most of us, but it’s isn’t completely without risk. One unit can mask itself as a keyboard or a headset to access the content in a computer or phone.
Despite of difficulty protecting yourself when connection has been established, it’s relatively easy to keep track of what units that are connected to Bluetooth, and control the unit connected every time it’s a new unit. The functions of security await rapid development, but as always, requires common sense.
Different power classes
The technology has 3 different power classes. What is called Class 1 has a range of more than 100 meters and is often used devices without power limitation. Class 2 has a range of about 10 meters while Class 3 has a range of about 5 meters. Both Class 2 and 3 are usually used for battery powered devices.
Devices that use Bluetooth are included in different profiles. These profiles describe what types of features the device supports. Different units may have different profiles. However, everyone must support the Generic Access Profile and Service Discovery Application Profile. Headset Profile (HSP) is probably the most common profile used. This profile is used for communication between headsets and usually a mobile device. Another common profile is the Video Distribution Profile (VDP) which allows the transmission of a video stream.
Latest update October 2020Glossary