How Bluetooth Works

There are lots of different ways that electronic devices can connect to one another. For example:
  • Component cables
  • Electrical wires
  • Ethernet cables
  • WiFi
  • Infrared signals

When you use computers, entertainment systems or telephones, the various pieces and parts of the systems make up a community of electronic devices. These devices communicate with each other using a variety of wires, cables, radio signals and infrared light beams, and an even greater variety of connectors, plugs and protocols.

The art of connecting things is becoming more and more complex every day. In this article, we will look at a method of connecting devices, called Bluetooth, that can streamline the process. A Bluetooth connection is wireless and automatic, and it has a number of interesting features that can simplify our daily lives.

The Problem

When any two devices need to talk to each other, they have to agree on a number of points before the conversation can begin. The first point of agreement is physical: Will they talk over wires, or through some form of wireless signals? If they use wires, how many are required -- one, two, eight, 25? Once the physical attributes are decided, several more questions arise:

  • How much data will be sent at a time? For instance, serial ports send data 1 bit at a time, while parallel ports send several bits at once.


  • How will they speak to each other? All of the parties in an electronic discussion need to know what the bits mean and whether the message they receive is the same message that was sent. This means developing a set of commands and responses known as a protocol.

Bluetooth offers a solution to the problem.

Why is it called Bluetooth?
Harald Bluetooth was king of Denmark in the late 900s. He managed to unite Denmark and part of Norway into a single kingdom then introduced Christianity into Denmark. He left a large monument, the Jelling rune stone, in memory of his parents. He was killed in 986 during a battle with his son, Svend Forkbeard. Choosing this name for the standard indicates how important companies from the Nordic region (nations including Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland) are to the communications industry, even if it says little about the way the technology works.