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Bluetooth Communication Overview

A Short-Range Mobile Solution
Bluetooth is a specification for a small form-factor, low-cost, short-range radio solution for providing links between mobile computers, mobile phones, and other portable and hand-held devices, and for providing connectivity to the internet. It is based on a radio link that provides fast and reliable transmission of both voice and data. It can carry up to three high-quality voice channels simultaneously at speeds to 1 Mbit/sec, even in noisy environments. Like USB, the specification incorporates both rules for implementing the interface and rules for designing compatible peripherals for the network.

Bluetooth allows users to connect to a wide range of devices at one time without cables, and potentially without actively initiating the connection. For example, your PDA could automatically update a copy of your schedule stored on a desktop PC the minute you walked into your office. This connectivity is enabled by a tiny microchip incorporating a radio transceiver that is built into Bluetooth devices. This radio transceiver provides the advantage of being effective through obstacles. Thus, you could ostensibly use a Bluetooth connection to send data from a computer in one room to a printer in the next--right through the wall.

One concern when using such a system is privacy. As Bluetooth operates in the globally available 2.4 GHz frequency, it is conceivable that an unintended recipient could intercept a signal. To combat this, all Bluetooth devices are keyed for their own networks. The transmissions use a sophisticated encoding specification that not only guards against interference, it also ensures that only devices specifically programmed to receive a broadcast will be able to decode it.

Bluetooth uses a flexible, multiple piconet structure for communication. It supports both point-to-point and multipoint connections for full-duplex networks. Currently up to seven slave devices can be configured to use a master radio in one device. Several of the piconets can be established and linked in scatternets to allow flexibility among configurations. Devices in the same piconet have priority synchronizations, but other devices can enter the network at any time. In a full-duplex network, a multiple piconet structure with 10 fully loaded, independent piconets, can maintain aggregate data transfer speeds of up to 6 Mbps.

Class 1 and Class 2 Bluetooth
The major difference between the 2 classes of Bluetooth adapter is communication range and power requirements. As a rule, you will typically trade power consumption for distance (though all Bluetooth devices typically have low power requirements relative to other types of computer add-in devices.) Class 2 Bluetooth devices have a communication range of 10 meters (30 feet), and Class 1 adapters provide a communication range of 100 meters (300 feet).

High and Low Power
The Bluetooth specification implements two power levels: a low power level designed for short distance communication such as within an office (Class 2), and a high power level that can accommodate a medium range, such as an entire building (Class 1). Additionally, Bluetooth limits power output to exactly what the device requires at any given time. For instance, when two devices connect and determine that they are close together, the transmitter immediately modifies its signal to the strength needed to accommodate that range. When traffic volume across a connection slows down, or stops completely, a receiving device will shift to a low power sleep mode that is intermittently interrupted for very short periods in order to maintain the network connection. With these power saving features, Bluetooth devices consume very small amounts of power, making them ideal for portable applications.

Bluetooth for Data Communication
Bluetooth technology makes data communication fast, easy, and convenient. As speeds and distances are currently limited, it should be viewed as a short-range solution for low to medium speed applications. It does provide remarkable flexibility, by communicating through walls and other obstacles, that makes it an ideal choice for home or office networks--for example sharing a printer among multiple PCs located in different rooms on the same floor. It also expands the functionality of a mobile phone, allowing it to serve as a modem for Internet connections, or allowing it to communicate with other devices--such as the prospect of using mobile phones to purchase drinks from vending machines.

To learn more:
These expert sources provide detailed information about Bluetooth and Bluetooth devices:

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