Will Bluetooth let gadgets gossip?

Will Bluetooth let gadgets gossip?The Bluetooth standard is well placed to be the choice for the wireless revolution, says Alex Mayhew-Smith
It will be a very different world when our electronic gadgets start talking to each other and if we believe all the hype about the short range RF communication revolution, they will be gossiping about our domestic habits.
The truth is likely to be a bit more practical. Bluetooth is one of the standards competing to run the wireless revolution. It is an open industry standard but competing against two other RFlinks for electronic equipment; the Home RF system and wireless LAN. All three work at the same frequency but are not expected to interfere with each other as they use frequency hopping.
All three systems are in the later stages of development and will probably be available this year. Bluetooth has the backing of major companies, which already have a large share of the market in electronic products: Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba.
Ericsson recently said it will start producing its first products for the Bluetooth standard later this year; a 2.4GHz Bluetooth radio transceiver and a Bluetooth module. Ericsson claims they are the first products that support Bluetooth, announced ahead of the final version of the standard, which is set to be released in June at the first Bluetooth convention in London. Bluetooth at a glance Bluetooth is a standard for short-range radio communication between electronic equipment, for example between your mobile phone and your computer. Companies such as Ericsson and Texas Instruments are working to support the technology in their products. It was developed by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba and is named after a 10th century Scandinavian king who united Denmark. Six hundred companies have already signed up as Bluetooth special interest members.  
 
“The basic idea is that it will replace cables, making access easier to the Internet. Bluetooth would let you have a mobile phone in your pocket and the ability to download your e-mail to a laptop computer – it gives you mobile freedom,” says Stefan L?f, Bluetooth products manager with Ericsson.
As L?f says, the first use of the technology will be in the office and for mobile business purposes. But other applications have already been discussed for the technology: home use.
“The distance Bluetooth will work at will depend on the environment,” says L?f. “The general distance is 10 meters, next year we will have products that go to 100 meters.” The peak speed for Bluetooth transmission will be 1Mbit/s, added L?f.
While those working to develop Bluetooth tell us the uses are endless, Bluetooth in the home will be years away, says L?f. But there have already been reports as to how Bluetooth will, with installation in every home appliance, enable the ultimate high tech home.
Visions conjured up by the mainstream media and TV shows such as the BBC’s Dream House, see us all communicating with our fridges to find out if there is enough cheese for tea. It has even been reported that a German research centre has come up with the idea of installing chips in the bathroom cabinet, which would communicate with your mobile phone or PC and tell you if you were running low on toothpaste.
“This kind of speculation is not limited to the UK. It may not be wrong but it will not be the first use for Bluetooth. I have heard of one idea that it could be used to set your coffee machine going, ready for your return home from work. There is no real advantage in this but it is true that Bluetooth opens up new possibilities,” says L?f.
Bluetooth is coming and we already know what it will be used for to begin with. How many people really want to spend their lives monitoring toothpaste levels, has yet to be seen.


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