What is Bluetooth Technology: basics & overview

Bluetooth is a short range wireless communication system providing connectivity for many electronic items

Bluetooth Tutorial / Summary Includes:
Bluetooth technology basics     Radio interface     File transfer     Bluetooth profiles     Pairing & networking     Security    

Bluetooth technology is well established and is able to provide wireless connectivity for an ever increasing number of items from Bluetooth wireless headphones to mobile phone and laptop short range connectivity and wireless computer mice to many other devices requiring short range wireless connectivity.

Bluetooth technology has progressed significantly and has been expanded to provide not only the traditional short range audio streaming, to applications like mesh connectivity for IoT and M2M communications.

Run under the auspices of the Bluetooth SIG which develops the Bluetooth standards, Bluetooth has developed to provide faster speeds, greater flexibility and far more capability.

Bluetooth device showing the Bluetooth logo
Bluetooth device showing Bluetooth logo

History of Bluetooth technology & Bluetooth SIG

The Bluetooth history dates back to 1994 when Ericsson came up with a concept to use a wireless connection to connect items such as an earphones or cordless headsets with other items like mobile phones.

The idea behind Bluetooth (it was not yet called Bluetooth) was developed further as the possibilities of interconnections with a variety of other peripherals such as computers printers, phones and more were realised. Using the developing idea for Bluetooth technology, the possibility of quick and easy connections between electronic devices became the aim.

It was decided that in order to enable the development of Bluetooth technology to move forward and be accepted, it needed to be opened up as an industry standard.

Accordingly, in Feb 1998, five companies (Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Toshiba and Intel) formed the Bluetooth SIG - Special Interest Group.

The history of Bluetooth shows the Bluetooth SIG grew very rapidly, because by the end of 1998 it welcomed its 400th member and then by 2017 the SIG had grown to over 25,000 member companies.

After its initial inception, the Bluetooth SIG worked rapidly on the development of Bluetooth technology and the standard. Three months after the formation of the special interest group - it was not yet known as the Bluetooth SIG, the name Bluetooth was adopted.

The following year, in July 1999, the first full release of the standard occurred.

The Bluetooth SIG performs a number of functions:

  • Publish and update the Bluetooth specifications
  • Administer the qualification programme
  • Evangelise Bluetooth technology
  • Protect Bluetooth trademarks

The Bluetooth SIG global headquarters is in Kirkland, Washington, USA and there are local offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, China; Seoul, Korea; Minato-Ku, Tokyo; Taiwan; and Malmo, Sweden.

The name Bluetooth

The name of the Bluetooth standard originates from the Danish king Harald Blåtand. He was king of Denmark between 940 and 981 AD.

Blåtand’s name translates as "Blue Tooth" and this was used as his nickname and resulted from the fact that he had a tooth that was band and had gone “Blue.”

A brave warrior, Blåtand’s main achievement was that of uniting Denmark under the banner of Christianity, and then uniting it with Norway a country he had conquered.

The Bluetooth standard was named after him because Bluetooth endeavours to unite personal computing and telecommunications devices and this has similarities with Blåtand uniting Denmark and then Denmark with Norway .

Bluetooth standard releases

There have been many releases of the Bluetooth standard as updates have been made to ensure it keeps pace with the current technology and the needs of the users.

Bluetooth Standard Releases & Timeline
Release date Key features of version
1.0 July 1999 Draft version of the Bluetooth standard
1.0a July 1999 First published version of the Bluetooth standard
1.0b Dec 1999 Small updates to cure minor problems and issues
1.0b + CE Nov 2000 Critical Errata added to issue 1.0b of the Bluetooth standard
1.1 February 2001 First useable release. It was used by the IEEE for their standard IEEE 802.15.1 - 2002.
1.2 Nov 2003 This release of the Bluetooth standard added new facilities including frequency hopping and eSCO for improved voice performance. Was released by the IEEE as IEEE 802.15.1 - 2005. This was the last version issued by IEEE.
2.0 + EDR Nov 2004 This version of the Bluetooth standard added the enhanced data rate (EDR) to increase the throughput to 3.0 Mbps raw data rate.
2.1 July 2007 This version of the Bluetooth standard added secure simple pairing to improve security.
3.0 + HS Apr 2009 Bluetooth 3 added IEEE 802.11 as a high speed channel to increase the data rate to 10+ Mbps
4.0 Dec 2009 The Bluetooth standard was updated to include Bluetooth Low Energy formerly known as Wibree
5 2017 Bluetooth 5 was released in 2017 and provided higher data rates, improved security, the ability to be used for IoT with low current consumption, etc.

Bluetooth basics

The first release of Bluetooth was for a wireless data system that could carry data at speeds up to 721 Kbps with the addition of up to three voice channels. The aim of Bluetooth technology was to enable users to replace cables between devices such as printers, fax machines, desktop computers and peripherals, and a host of other digital devices. One major use was for wirelessly connecting headsets for to mobile phones, allowing people to use small headsets rather than having to speak directly into the phone.

Another application of Bluetooth technology was to provide a connection between an ad hoc wireless network and existing wired data networks.

The technology was intended to be placed in a low cost module that could be easily incorporated into electronics devices of all sorts. Bluetooth uses the licence free Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequency band for its radio signals and enables communications to be established between devices up to a maximum distance of around 100 metres, although much shorter distances were more normal..

Bluetooth technology is well established and the standard is being developed to ensure that it meets the growing needs for connectivity for many electronic devices. Even though it was initially aimed at streaming audio to items like headphones and other audio devices, Bluetooth is now able to provide connectivity for many devices enabling it to be used for new applications like M2M, IoT and remote device connectivity.

Wireless & Wired Connectivity Topics:
Mobile Communications basics     2G GSM     3G UMTS     4G LTE     5G     WiFi     IEEE 802.15.4     DECT cordless phones     NFC- Near Field Communication     Networking fundamentals     What is the Cloud     Ethernet     Serial data     USB     SigFox     LoRa     VoIP     SDN     NFV     SD-WAN
    Return to Wireless & Wired Connectivity