Andy:  Good Morning Charlie Brown.  What’s on tap for today?

Charlie:  I have some questions for you.  Where did the name for Bluetooth come from?  Why is it called that?  Where did the symbol for it come from?

Andy:  Good questions.  I think the name came from a king of Scandinavian king.

 Charlie:  Right you are.  King Harald Bluetooth who reigned in the tenth century.

Turns out when the spec was being developed in the early 1990’s there were a number of competing specs out there and an engineer from Intel was reading a historical novel about the Vikings and King Harald Bluetooth.  He was impressed how the king worked to unite the tribes of this area into the country of Denmark.  His work was then to develop the specification and protocols for a short range communication system that would allow mobile phones to communicate with computers.  And the Bluetooth logo comes from the runes for Harald Bluetooth’s initials.

 Andy:  Interesting.  So what specifically is Bluetooth?

Charlie:  Bluetooth is a protocol for short range Personal Area Networks.  These are networks that cover shorter ranges, typically up to 330 ft today, perhaps up to 1000 ft in the future.  The data transfer rates are much slower than typical WiFi  data rates.

Andy:  What is the Bluetooth protocol used for?

Charlie:  Well there are a number of things that it is used for.  One of the most common applications is to transfer audio from cell phones to wireless ear buds. And this application demonstrates the basic characteristics of their uses:

  • Short range transmission
  • Between battery powered devices (low power)
  • Line of sight or very close to line of sight
  • Lower frequency data transfers

Some other examples include:

  • Wireless transfer between a PC and stereo speakers
  • Wireless transfer between a PC and a mouse or a printer
  • Wireless replacement for serial connections between end points and data monitoring/collection systems
  • Wireless connection between game consoles and their controllers
  • Bar Code Scanner connections to computers
  • Short range transmission of medical data from sensors to monitoring devices

I could go on, but I believe you get the picture.

Andy:  Well I do have to ask if this data transmission is secure.

Charlie:  Bluetooth implements confidentialityauthentication and key derivation with custom algorithms.  In short there is reasonable security for the short ranges involved.

Andy:  How does Bluetooth compare to WiFi?

Charlie:  Shorter ranges, slower data transmission rates, not as strong security.

 Andy:  I’ve always wondered just what Bluetooth was used for and what the differences were between it and WiFi.  If our listeners need help connecting Bluetooth devices to your computer or other device how can they contact you?

Charlie:  You can give Charlie and Dave a call at PC Applications, 533-6510 or visit our web site

Charlie:  For computers of renown, just call Charlie Brown!