Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Colour Me Blue…tooth

A conference I attended today at the 2007 Wireless and Mobile Expo shed some light on what to expect with the new Bluetooth v 2.1 standard, and I must say, I’m impressed. Improvements will include things like quicker, near-field communication that eliminates the need to enter that pesky four-digit default access code to authorize the pairing of devices; to significantly reduced power consumption. An even higher speed version of Bluetooth is anticipated for the end of 2008, which could see speeds of approx. 48 Mbps! That’s perfect for large file transfers and video streaming, which the current Bluetooth standard cannot handle.

There’s no doubt that Bluetooth has become an important part in virtually every area of technology: from pairing mobile phones with wireless headsets or an automobile’s audio system for the play back of tunes; to highly targeted “proximity-based” Bluetooth ads, like those Cisco has erected in Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Other applications include things like Bluetooth home entertainment remote controls that could eliminate the line-of-sight issues you're currently faced with in using standard IR remotes; or even advanced gaming options with the latest consoles like Nintendo’s family-friendly Wii.

But the standard has even more useful applications, like in the medical industry: imagine having a message beamed to you, letting you know that a sickly family member has not dispensed the day’s required pill from a Bluetooth-equipped casing?

I look forward to seeing what the future of Bluetooth has to offer. As Bluetooth SIG’s Kevin Keating explained in his keynote address, the firm is looking to conduct “a little less conversation, and a lot more action.” (I wonder if they'll be doing so in some blue suede shoes?)

As an interesting "tidbit", in case anyone thought that the name Bluetooth originated from a series of highly scientific calculations, think again. Apparently the name originated after a Danish Viking and King named Harold Blatand, who was known for uniting areas of Denmark and Norway, much the same way the Bluetooth standard aims at uniting devices across different platforms. However, Blatand also had a penchant toward eating blueberries, which often stained his teeth blue. Hence, he was often referred to as the Bluetooth king. And there you have it…and no, that isn't a joke!

[Photo: BlueAnt’s Supertooth Light handsfree speakerphone is by far my favourite Bluetooth device. A clip wraps around a car's sun visor, and the beautifully-designed unit magnetically connects to it, which makes for very easy removal when charging is needed (but with a rated 33 days standby, this isn’t very often). Once the phone is connected (which is blazingly simple to do), just pop out the microphone by pushing in a button on the right side. Then, just make and receive calls without ever putting the phone to your ear. Sound quality is fantastic: I’ve never once been asked if I was using the speaker function of my phone, nor to move closer to the microphone. The Toronto roads are a safer place since I hooked up this device!]

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