Bluetooth FAQs

What is Bluetooth technology?

Bluetooth® technology is the global wireless standard enabling, convenient, secure connectivity for an expanding range of devices and service​s. It is an essential element for bringing everyday objects into the connected world.

Created by Ericsson in 1994, Bluetooth wireless technology was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. Bluetooth technology exchanges data over short distances using radio transmissions over the unlicensed industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band at 2.4 to 2.485 GHz. The 2.4 GHz ISM band is available and unlicensed in most countries.

What is Bluetooth used for?

Bluetooth wireless technology is built into billions of products, from cars and mobile phones to medical devices and computers and even forks and toothbrushes. Bluetooth technology allows you to share voice, data, music, photos, videos and other information wirelessly between paired devices.

When was Bluetooth technology invented?

In 1994 a group of engineers at Ericsson, a Swedish company, invented a wireless communication technology, later called Bluetooth. In 1998, the original group of Promoter companies—Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Toshiba and IBM—came together to form the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Since no single company owns the technology, the SIG member companies work together to preserve, educate, and further Bluetooth technology as a means to bring devices into the connected world.

Where does the name Bluetooth come from?

The name “Bluetooth” comes from the 10th century Danish King Harald Blåtand or Harold Bluetooth in English. King Blåtand helped unite warring factions in parts of what are now Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Similarly, Bluetooth technology was created as an open standard to allow connectivity and collaboration between disparate products and industries.

How does Bluetooth technology differ from other radio technologies?

Mobile phones, FM radio and television all use radio waves to send information wirelessly. And while Bluetooth technology also uses radio waves, it transmits them over a shorter distance.

Radios and TV broadcasts over many miles or kilometers. Bluetooth technology sends information within your Personal Area Network or “PAN” (aka your own personal space) at distances up to 100 meters (328 feet)—depending upon device implementation. Bluetooth technology operates in the unlicensed industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) band at 2.4 to 2.485 GHz, using a spread spectrum, frequency hopping, full-duplex signal at a nominal rate of 1600 hops/sec.

Is Bluetooth technology hardware or software?

It’s a combination of both. When someone says a product contains Bluetooth that means it includes a small computer chip containing the Bluetooth radio. But it also needs software to connect, via Bluetooth wireless technology, to other products.

What else can Bluetooth technology do?

Originally intended to be a wireless replacement for cables on phones, headsets, keyboards and mice, Bluetooth technology now goes way beyond that. Bluetooth technology is bringing everyday devices into a digital and connected world. In the health and fitness market, the use cases vary widely — from sensors that monitor activity levels to medical and wellness devices that monitor healthcare, like a glucometer, inhaler or toothbrush. The top-selling Smartphones, PCs and tablets all support Bluetooth technology. In-vehicle systems give the ability to make phone calls, send texts, and even make dinner reservations. The Bluetooth SIG is also seeing developments where drivers will monitor important information like vehicle diagnostics, traffic, even driver health — all in real time. Bluetooth technology is creating opportunities for companies to develop solutions that make a consumer’s life better.

What are Bluetooth Smart and Bluetooth Smart Ready?

A Bluetooth Smart Ready product connects to both classic Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart low energy products. By contrast, a Bluetooth Smart product collects data and runs for months or years on a tiny battery. Think of a Smart product as a sensor that works for a long time without changing the battery (like a fitness heart rate monitor) and a Smart Ready product as a collector (like a smart phone or tablet receiving the information and displaying it in an application).

Examples include phones, tablets, PCs, TVs, even set-top boxes and game consoles that sit at the center of the consumers’ connected world. These devices efficiently receive data sent from Classic Bluetooth devices and Bluetooth Smart devices and feed it into applications that turn the data into useful information.

Bluetooth Smart Ready devices:

  • are built to Bluetooth v4.0 specifications (or higher) with Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) based architecture
  • feature a dual-mode low energy radio, and
  • allow for the device software to be updated by the consumer.

What are Bluetooth Smart devices?

Bluetooth Smart devices are designed to gather a specific piece of information—are all the windows on my house locked, what is my blood glucose level, how much do I weigh today?—and send it to a Bluetooth Smart Ready device.

Examples include heart-rate monitors, blood-glucose meters, smart watches, window and door security sensors, key fobs for your car, and blood-pressure cuffs – the opportunities are endless.

Bluetooth Smart devices:

  • are built to Bluetooth v4.0 specifications (or higher) with GATT based architecture
  • feature a single-mode low energy radio

Does every Bluetooth Smart device or Bluetooth Smart Ready device use Bluetooth v4.0 or higher?

Yes.

What is the range of Bluetooth devices?

Range is application specific and although a minimum range is mandated by the Core Specification, there is not a limit and manufacturers can tune their implementation to support the use case they are enabling.

Range may vary depending on class of radio used in an implementation:

  • Class 3 radios – have a range of up to 1 meter or 3 feet
  • Class 2 radios – most commonly found in mobile devices – have a range of 10 meters or 33 feet
  • Class 1 radios – used primarily in industrial use cases – have a range of 100 meters or 300 feet

Do you need a Bluetooth dongle?

You probably don’t need a Bluetooth dongle. The majority of PCs and laptops, regardless of the operating system include Bluetooth technology. However, Bluetooth is an evolving technology, and while newer Bluetooth devices should be backward compatible, there may be a loss in security, speed, or range.

Enter the dongle. A Bluetooth dongle is a Bluetooth adapter that connects other Bluetooth enabled devices through a USB port. Simply plugging the dongle into your USB and the installation driver will enable the latest version of Bluetooth on you computer, or make a non-Bluetooth computer Bluetooth-enabled.

Once the installation is done, follow the device manufacturer’s pairing instructions to pair devices.