Is there anything worse than a cable? If you’ve ever plugged in a computer and half a dozen peripherals, a digital TV, and a DVD player, or if you’ve installed your phone extensions around the house, you would know how difficult all those cables can be.
Would it not be nice if there was a way to connect electronic devices so that they can share the signal they need without any wires?
Then comes in, Bluetooth! It is an easy way to connect cell phones, printers, computers, digital cameras and other devices over relatively short distances using wireless technology (radio waves).
Will Bluetooth connect the electronic world in the same way? Let’s take a closer look!
Table of Contents
- What is Bluetooth?
- How does Bluetooth work?
- What Bluetooth can be used for?
- Is Bluetooth secure?
- Is Bluetooth better or worse than Wi-Fi?
- What is the difference between Bluetooth and NFC?
- What are the common Bluetooth issues?
- How is Bluetooth evolving?
What is Bluetooth?
Until now, we are all used to wireless communication, although we don’t always realize it. Radios and televisions receive programs broadcast over radio waves hundreds or thousands of kilometres/miles in the air.
Cordless phones use similar technologies to transfer calls from your phone to a base station somewhere in your house.
If you use Wi-Fi, your computer sends and receives a constant stream of internet data to and from the router, which is likely directly connected to the network.
All of these technologies involve sending information back and forth not with copper wires, but with radio waves that hum invisibly through the air.
Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard which enables electronic devices to connect and interact. It can be found on a variety of devices, from smartphones to speakers, laptops and more.
Bluetooth doesn’t depend on Wi-Fi, mobile data, or the mobile network – as long as devices are Bluetooth-enabled and nearby, they can engage in two-way wireless communication.
Bluetooth is similar to radio wave technology but is primarily designed for short-distance communications of less than 10m.
You can usually use it to download photos from a digital camera to a computer, connect a wireless mouse to a laptop, connect a hands-free headset to a cell phone so that you can talk and drive safely and securely at the same time.
Electronic devices that work in this way have built-in radio antennas (transmitters and receivers) so that they can simultaneously send and receive signals wirelessly to other Bluetooth devices.
Older devices can be converted to Bluetooth using accessories in the form of USB sticks, PCMCIA transfer cards, etc. The transmitter power controls the range within which the Bluetooth device can operate.
It is generally said that the devices belong to one of three classes: Class 1 is the most robust and can operate up to 100m (330ft), Class 2, which is the most common type operates up to 10m (33ft), and Class 3 is the least strong and does not exceed much more than 1m (3.3ft).
How does Bluetooth work?
Bluetooth transmits and receives radio waves in the range of 79 different frequencies (channels) focused on 2.45GHz, excluding radio, television and mobile phones, and reserved for the use of industrial, scientific and medical devices.
Short-range Bluetooth transmitters are one of its most significant advantages. They consume almost no power, and since they don’t travel very far, they’re theoretically more secure than wireless networks that operate over longer distances, like Wi-Fi. (In practice, there are a few security issues).
Bluetooth devices are automatically recognized and interconnected, and up to eight can communicate simultaneously. They do not mix because each pair of devices uses another of the 79 available channels.
If two devices want to communicate, they randomly select a channel and, if it has already been registered, randomly switch to one of the others (a technique known as spread-spectrum frequency hopping).
To lower the risk of interference from other electrical devices, and also to improve safety, pairs of devices are continually changing the frequency they use, thousands of times per second.
When a group of 2 or more Bluetooth devices share information, they form a kind of ad hoc computer mini-network called a piconet. Other devices can either join or leave an existing piconet at any time.
One device which is known as the master acts as the general controller of the network, while the others called slaves, obey its instructions. Two or more independent piconets can also join and share information forming a so-called scatternet.
What Bluetooth can be used for?
To listen to music
One of the most typical uses of Bluetooth is to connect a smartphone to headphones or wireless speakers.
The advantage of headphones is that you do not have to worry about whether cables or wires get tangled or pulled; one of the reasons why Bluetooth is particularly useful for sports headphones.
You can also find thousands of small and powerful Bluetooth speakers to meet all needs and can be perfect to use at house parties when you don’t want to leave your smartphone in one place to stream music with a cable.
For hands-free headphones
Another common use of Bluetooth is the use of hands-free headphones. You can connect small internal devices to your smartphone so that you can make calls on the go quickly and easily.
To transfer files
If you’re close to the person you want to send files to, you can use Bluetooth to do so. This is a good idea when you need to transfer larger file types when you are out of range of a Wi-Fi signal.
For hands-free in cars
You can also find Bluetooth in cars. Pair the phone with the car, and you can receive calls without touching the smartphone.
The instructions for this setting depend on the car and the manufacturer, but on your phone, it should be to find the Bluetooth car ID in the Bluetooth device menu.
Is Bluetooth secure?
A wireless connection is always less secure than a wired communication. Do you remember the old spy movies that showed secret agents connecting phone cables to listen to people talk? Interrupting cable communication is relatively difficult.
Listening in the air is much easier because the information comes and goes in the open. All you have to do is to be within the range of the wireless transmitter to pick up its signals. Wireless Internet networks are encrypted (using scrambled communication) to resolve this issue.
How secure is Bluetooth? Like Wi-Fi, communications are also encrypted, and there are many other security features.
You can restrict specific devices so that they can only talk to certain trusted devices, for example, by allowing your cell phone to be controlled only by your Bluetooth hands-free headset and by no one else.
This is called device-level security. You can also limit the actions that different Bluetooth devices can do with other devices using so-called service-level security.
Criminals are constantly more sophisticated; You’ve probably heard of bluebugging (people downloading your Bluetooth device without your knowledge), bluejacking (when people send messages to other people’s devices, often for advertising purposes), and bluesnarfing (downloading data from there. someone else’s device via Bluetooth) and there are undoubtedly other ways to hack Bluetooth networks.
However, in general, as long as you take reasonable and rational precautions when using a Bluetooth device in public places, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about safety.
Is Bluetooth better or worse than Wi-Fi?
People are often confused with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi because, at first glance, they seem to be doing similar things.
They are quite different. Bluetooth is primarily used to connect computers and ad hoc electronic devices over very short distances, often only for short or intermittent communications using relatively small amounts of data.
It is relatively secure, consumes little power and connects automatically. Wi-Fi is designed to transfer much more massive amounts of data between a computer and the Internet, often over much greater distances.
This can involve more complex security and usually consumes a lot more power. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are interrelated technologies, not rivals, and you can easily use them to make your electronic devices work more comfortably for you.
What is the difference between Bluetooth and NFC?
Bluetooth and NFC are very similar in many ways – you can even use NFC with Bluetooth for faster connectivity.
The main differences are:
- NFC does not require “pairing” which means you connect two Bluetooth devices plus data transfer starts quickly
- NFC works at shorter distances (typically less than 10cm)
- NFC can be used to make mobile payments and Bluetooth cannot
- Bluetooth, on the other hand, has a range of at least 200 feet and transmits data faster than NFC.
What are the common Bluetooth issues?
The most common problem that Bluetooth users face is that they won’t connect to devices. The reasons for this can be several factors, but usually due to proximity.
Despite claims of a 200-foot Bluetooth range, in practice, it’s usually much less than that. Walls, surfaces and electrical interference can limit it. If you have trouble connecting devices, first make sure both devices are Bluetooth enabled and are within proximity to each other.
The next common problem is that the devices are not found or recognized. Most of the time, this is solved by simply restarting the device or turning its Bluetooth function on and off. It sounds too easy, but it’s usually the most effective solution.
How is Bluetooth evolving?
Bluetooth has often been quite complex to use. Like all wireless technology, it is another low battery for mobile devices; they can often be out of range, making communication irregular or impossible and also getting two Bluetooth devices to talk to each other isn’t always as easy as it should be.
The world of mobile devices is evolving as we move towards the so-called Internet of Things (where all kinds of everyday objects are connected to the network), and Bluetooth must continuously evolve to keep pace.
Recognizing the need to connect more and more devices faster and more securely, Bluetooth developers regularly introduce improved versions.
First, there was the Bluetooth BR/EDR (Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate, technically Bluetooth version 2.1), which provides more effortless connectivity between devices and better security.
Then came Bluetooth Highspeed (Bluetooth version 3.0), which offered faster communication and lower power consumption.
More recently we have Bluetooth Smart or Bluetooth Low Energy technically known as Bluetooth version 4.0+; As these names suggest, this version is better for connecting a vast range of simpler devices, consumes much less power, and is much easier to integrate into mobile apps (iOS and Android).
The latest version, Bluetooth 5, offers another improvement in terms of speed, range and bandwidth.
Bluetooth is a short range wireless communication technology which enables devices such as mobile phones, computers, and peripherals to transfer data or voice wirelessly over short distances.
The purpose of Bluetooth is to replace the cables that generally connect devices while maintaining security between them. The curious name comes from Harald Bluetooth, the Danish king who united the Scandinavians in the 10th century.
Bluetooth is used for various purposes. Why are you using Bluetooth? Let us know in the Comment section.