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Editor in Chief

Bluetooth finding its way in

Oct 07, 20023 mins
BluetoothNetwork Security

When we reviewed Bluetooth developments last January the technology was showing promise because it was cropping up in things like cell phone headsets that let you place calls while driving, even if your cell phone was in your briefcase in the trunk.

These types of products weren’t enough to guarantee the future of this 1M bit/sec point-to-point local wireless technology, but their arrival showed things were beginning to gel. Maybe  Bluetooth wouldn’t be rendered moot by other emerging wireless technologies after all.

Now there is new evidence that Bluetooth is here to stay.

For one, it’s being built into more traditional computing tools. Until recently, Bluetooth was something of a novelty, showing up in everything from camcorders to appliances (in April, Toshiba unveiled a washing machine, refrigerator and a microwave oven that were Bluetooth-enabled). Now IBM, for example, ships high-end models of its ThinkPad X30 laptop  with 802.11b wireless Ethernet and Bluetooth built in.

And two, Microsoft and Apple have bought in. Apple has offered support in its new OS X operating system, and late last month  Microsoft released software to allow Bluetooth devices to work with Windows XP-based PCs. What’s more, the iSynch technology Apple released into beta two weeks ago uses Bluetooth to let customers with certain makes of Bluetooth-enabled GPRS cell phones wirelessly synchronize their phones with the address book and calendar on their computer.

And soon it won’t matter that only 10% of the general public and 45% of early adopters/high-end consumers know what Bluetooth is (according to a report by Cahners In-Stat/MDR). People will just know they no longer need a cord to attach their mouse and their keyboard to their desktop, that they can dial in to the Internet from their laptop via the cell phone in their briefcase, and they can wirelessly exchange information with users of a range of devices through a few key strokes.

With Bluetooth showing up in basic infrastructure, new applications and capabilities will start to arrive, driving a wave of demand and acceptance.

As a sign of where this is all going, a study by Allied Business Intelligence predicts that by 2007, 20% of all new vehicles will arrive with embedded Bluetooth hardware. The technology will be used for everything from electronic toll collection to telephony and music systems, Allied says.

Once wavering on the brink of obscurity, Bluetooth now appears to be a viable network option fulfilling a real need.