Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why are you so Blue?

Bluetooth. Everybody has heard of it but do you really know what it means? Bluetooth is the short-range wireless standard designed to allow network transmissions between small hand-held and peripheral devices. For example, it allows a two-way wireless communication a cell phone and a computer. In my own case, I use bluetooth to sync my Treo 650 with Outlook on my desktop computer.

But, why call it bluetooth? Well, once upon a time (sorry, couldn't resist) Harold Blatand (translated as Bluetooth) was a 10th century Viking King of Denmark. He is credited with uniting and bringing order to Denmark and Norway. Some of the folk tales from that part of world refer to Harold's teeth as being tinged blue because of his habit of eating blueberries. The Bluetooth development team used the analogy of unifying the warring Scandinavian tribes to unifying small electronic devices through a common wireless standard. The initials "HB" written in Norwegian runes as shown here comprise the Bluetooth logo.

So, bluetooth becomes the connecting link in a PAN. Now, wait a sec. Wasn't PAN the flying guy who was the leader of the Lost Boys and the archenemy of Captain Hook? No, I'm referring to a Personal Area Network. This refers to a network of personal electronic devices which can communicate with each other. This is different than a LAN (Local Area Network) which refers to a networked collection of computers, printers, etc. A LAN will typically communicate across a wired or wireless ethernet link and may share information from a central file server.

Ok, Genius. So how does it really work? Well, each bluetooth-enabled device has a unique identifying number assigned. When a bluetooth device is brought into close proximity to another bluetooth device and the discovery feature is enabled; then, the user is prompted to create a link or to "pair" the devices. When the pairing is successful, then a "trusted relationship" is created. I know that this sounds like some type of strange "touchy-feely" therapy, but computer consultants can barely relate to each other in a virtual world. So, expecting a computer consultant to relate to an actual human being in the real world is an unreal expectation.

For example, Let's say that you purchase a new wireless headset for your bluetooth enabled cell phone. When you turn on the headset and place it in discovery mode your phone will "see" it and request if you want to pair the headset to your phone. If so, then you are requested to input the security key or passkey. With a bluetooth device that doesn't hold sensitive information, the factory default passkey is 0000. Assuming that you are quick enough to key in the proper passkey, then the trusted relationship is established.

The current version of Bluetooth is 2.1 which allows for a 3 megabit/second file transfer. The next standard - 3.0 - will allow for up to 480 megabits/second. This places the next proposed standard in the current transfer rate of USB and Firewire.

It also makes you wonder. With all these people people walking around with bluetooth headsets stuck in their ears while walking around and doing their everyday tasks; is this relationship with their personal electronic device their most "trusted" one? No wonder there's such a demand for mental health services these days.


cook bully said...


Just thought I'd tell you that my bluetooth is currently making me a little blue. I've got a motorola, but think it may be at the end of its life as it doesn't always stay on, and I need to re-enable.

Have you heard anything about the Jawbone?

Ed Kivell said...

The Jawbone is supposed to be one of the most comfortable earpieces to wear. And its reputed to have excellent sound. Cnet gave it an excellent review. Unfortunately, it requires more of that green colored paper to purchase.