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What is Bluetooth and how does it work?

You use Bluetooth everyday, and probably know nothing about it. Learn something new today.

what is bluetooth

Sure, you must be familiar with that funny little symbol on your mobile devices, that allows you to connect your devices via “Bluetooth”. However, for most, the actual technology is mostly unknown. In a digital age of wireless technology, Bluetooth just seems to be another method of wireless digital communication.

Swedish telecom manufacturer Ericsson created the technology in 1994, and it was revolutionary at that time. Today, it almost seems run-of-the-mill. However, Bluetooth still remains a standard in the tech industry, even many years later. So, what is it about Bluetooth that makes it so special?

What, exactly, is Bluetooth? Let’s take a look.

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What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard that uses radio waves to transfer data or information across devices. In the modern tech age, most people are quite familiar with wireless technology. We can even charge our phones wirelessly these days.

However, unlike other forms of wireless radio technology, Bluetooth is designed for very short distances (around a 33ft radius in most cases). It was originally invented as a way to create wireless headphones–it’s still used for this today.

Although now, we use it to transfer photos, audio files, connect devices to each other such as computer peripherals to computers. Bluetooth exists in nearly every level of technology that we have today.

How does Bluetooth work?

Bluetooth operates on a number of different radio frequencies, (79 to be precise) at a rate of 2.45GHz. These frequencies are set apart from radio, and operate within their own self contained “spectrum”. This means that the channels are quite efficient, and use up very minimal amounts of power when in use.

Bluetooth devices are able to automatically connect with each other, and have the ability to connect up to 8 devices at a time. They do this by using something called “spread spectrum frequency hopping“. This means that each device will use a different one of the 79 available frequencies at random. This is in order to avoid blocking any frequencies being used by the other connected devices.

What is the difference between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi?

difference between bluetooth and wi-fi

One of the greatest misconceptions about wireless technology, is that it all works the same way. In this way, Bluetooth is often compared to wi-fi. However, the two could not be more opposite in many ways.

With the exceptions of both being wireless communication methods, they have no other similarities at all. The main difference is that Bluetooth is used to connect electronic devices without cables while wi-fi provides high-speed data transfer over short distances without the need for a wire connection.

Bluetooth also uses far less power, and requires far less security than wi-fi by nature. In essence, Bluetooth is wireless communication on a small scale. Wi-fi is wireless communication on a massive scale.

Is Bluetooth safe?

One of the primary concerns with Bluetooth is safety. How secure is it? Will it interfere with other devices in the area? In general, Bluetooth is incredibly secure and safe to use. Due to its small range, it is very unlikely that you will encounter any sort of Bluetooth network hacking.

However, it is important to note that any form of wireless communication is less secure than wired. While Bluetooth does use various layers of encryption, there is still some risk involved by the very nature of wireless communication. Although, in general, Bluetooth is considered a very secure network, and unlikely to be invaded by unwanted sources.

In regards to other safety concerns, you can also rest assured. Bluetooth operates on its own set of frequencies, it cannot and does not interfere with other radio signals. For example, medical equipment will not be tampered with by the use of Bluetooth.

What is Bluetooth used for?

As was mentioned earlier, Bluetooth was originally designed to be used for wireless headphones. At the time, this was a groundbreaking technology. However, the use of bluetooth has been drastically expanded upon over recent years.

For example, we use Bluetooth to connect mobile devices and GPS systems to motor vehicles daily. It can also be used to connect computer peripherals to the computer itself. You might also use bluetooth to send photos or files to another cell phone or computer. Bluetooth is perfect for any form of short distance wireless communication.

What are the limitations of Bluetooth?

Almost everything about Bluetooth is designed to be compact, and small-scale. For this reason, it comes with a small number of drawbacks.The most glaring limitation of bluetooth technology, is the available working radius. The frequencies that bluetooth operates on are really only viable for up to 33ft, and in come cases up to 100ft. However, beyond that, the technology itself doesn’t work.

In addition to radius, the network itself is designed to be very low-impact and power-efficient. This means that it cannot really transfer data quite as quickly as wi-fi, for example. In essence, Bluetooth cannot transfer data very quickly, nor very far.

Final thoughts

With all of the limitations that Bluetooth comes with, it might be simple to simply write it off as an “aging technology”. However, it is important to remember that bluetooth is so commonly used for a reason. While bluetooth may not be as powerful as other forms of wireless communication, it does its job very well.

Bluetooth was designed to be a safe, secure, and short term communications technology that would improve every day tech interactions. It does that, and more, throughout the entire tech industry. I would say we all have quite a bit to be thankful for, when it comes to Bluetooth. Without it, wireless connectivity would not be what it is today.

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