Are wires getting in your way? Bluetooth may be the answer for you. This emerging technology is helping computer users to shed the wires for good. Bluetooth is a communications system where two devices talk to each other by low-intensity radio signal. This innovation has proven to be inexpensive, accessible, and carry advantages over other wireless communication protocols like infrared. Signals do not require line of sight, so the devices can be behind walls or furniture. Depending on the device, the signal can travel as far as 60 feet.
To be Bluetooth-enabled, each device needs a chip, which includes a tiny circuit and radio transmitter. Most products have the chip pre-installed. All you’ll need to do is ensure the Bluetooth function is turned on. The devices must be paired. This is the process where two devices are instructed to trust and communicate automatically with each other. After this initial pairing, the devices will communicate with each other whenever they are in range. Multiple devices can be set up to talk with each other at the same time.
Perhaps the most exciting use for Bluetooth is connecting a printer. The biggest obstacle is obtaining a Bluetooth-capable printer, but Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark are leading the way by developing multifunction models in the $300-350 price range. Bluetooth printers free up a laptop user to move around the home or office and print from wherever they might be sitting. Bluetooth printers also offer a convenient work-around for networked printing. Multiple computers can use a single printer without having to set up a hard-wire network, an invaluable situation for offices with little in-house IT expertise. Bluetooth is making laptop computers even more portable. Devices like printers, mice, and digital cameras can be connected without wires.
Bluetooth founds its first widespread use in cell phone earpieces. These earpieces enabled cell phone users to keep their hands free without the hassle of wires. Bluetooth earpieces have another emerging use for telecommunications over the internet. Newer VOIP services like Skype or Google Talk can be used in conjunction with a Bluetooth earpiece. This eliminates the need for a phone base or wires of any kind.
Bluetooth will no doubt develop further as more machines and devices adopt the technology. With the proliferation of the technology come safety considerations for users. Devices should be kept in non-discoverable mode during daily life. This ensures that nearby people with Bluetooth capability won’t be able to hijack your device. Another concern is the device’s ability to be found by thieves travelling nearby. For example, the Bluetooth function of a cell phone or laptop computer should be turned off when the device is being stored in a car or a hotel room. A potential thief may be able to find that there is a Bluetooth (and therefore, expensive) device locked inside. Most important is the prohibition of using Bluetooth while on an airplane. Since Bluetooth is a radio signal, it has a real possibility of interfering with the operation of the aircraft. Devices should be completely powered down (not put to sleep) when the pilot announces that electronic device need to be stowed.