April 18, 2003, 12:25 PM — A few years ago, Bluetooth seemed to rule the planet. New products, from PC-Card adapters to wireless headsets, were appearing in the marketplace, and the promise of Bluetooth in every cell phone and notebook computer captured the imagination of analysts, the press, and potential users alike. But the original Bluetooth vision of ubiquity has yet to come to pass.
This is not to say, however, that Bluetooth isn't going to make a difference in a number of applications in the future. While it was derailed on the data side, perhaps, by the burgeoning market for 802.11 wireless LANs, Bluetooth headsets provide many wireless-phone users with wire-free convenience. And we are seeing an increasing number of cell phones equipped with Bluetooth, albeit with a relatively low level of marketing support on the part of the vendors - you may still need to do some digging to find what you need.
Many have questioned the effectiveness of Bluetooth in data applications due to the fact that it is relatively slow - less than 1M-bits/sec. in an era of 11M-bits/sec. (and beyond) wireless LANs. Since throughput really does matter, there's now an increasing level of activity in building a much faster Bluetooth, with this work spearheaded by the IEEE 802.15.3 committee (a relative of 802.11). Down the road, such wireless links - offering throughput of 55M-bits/sec. and beyond - may see application in everything from digital cameras to home entertainment to, yes, even data communications.
In the meantime, the increasing number of Bluetooth-equipped cell phones may spur your interest in Bluetooth for synchronization and headset applications, two areas where Bluetooth is more than effective. And stay tuned - Bluetooth may have a future in home automation, personal entertainment devices, and even your car. For more information, check out the official sites http://www.bluetooth.com (for users), and http://www.bluetooth.org (for vendors).
Copyright 2003 by Farpoint Group. All rights reserved.