Twice a year Intel hosts the Intel Developer Forum to gather developers and brief them on the latest technological advances. The major focus is (of course) on Intel hardware like Itanium, P4, and so on. However, there were a few sessions that dealt with technologies that managed to escape Intel's big shadow. One of these is Bluetooth, the open and global specification for short-distance wireless voice and data communication. The Bluetooth sessions were so crowded that even the overflow-space overflowed. Obviously there is a lot of interest in this technology.
The Bluetooth development is driven by a special interest group (SIG) that started out with nine members about one year ago: Ericsson, Nokia, IBM, Intel, Toshiba, 3Com, Lucent, Microsoft and Motorola. Today the SIG has more than 1800 members from all kinds of different industry segments like semiconductors, telecommunication, computing & peripherals, consumer, networking, automotive - just to a name a few.
Currently the Bluetooth specifications include two distances - 30 feet (10 m), and 300 feet (100 m) with amplification - with a symbol rate of 1 Mbps transmitting over the 2.4 GHz ISM band (almost worldwide). Some companies are also considering the 5 GHz ISM band for future technologies. Bluetooth uses circuit and packet switching and supports point-to-point and multi-point connections. The standard interfaces include USB, UART and PCMCIA. But Bluetooth is not just a replacement for all those connection cables dangling from the PC, but it can also serve as a data and voice access point in the home, the enterprise (LAN), and in public places like hotel and airport lounges. Contrary to another wireless candidate, IrDA that actually uses infrared technology, Bluetooth is not blocked by solid objects like walls and the user can stay connected while moving around.
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