Inside this Article
- Introduction to how Bluetooth works
- How Bluetooth creates a connection
- How Bluetooth Operates
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.
There are lots of different ways that electronic devices can connect to one another. For example:
- Component cables
- Electrical wires
- Ethernet cables
- Infrared signals
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.
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 1bit 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 this problem.HowStuffWorks.com
Bluetooth takes small-area networking to the next level by removing the need for user intervention and keeping transmission power extremely low to save battery power. Picture this: You’re on your Bluetooth-enable, standing outside the door to your house. You tell the person on the other end of the line to call you back in five minutes so you can get in the house and put your stuff away. As soon as you walk in the house, the map you received on your cell phone from your car’s Bluetooth-enabled GPS system is automatically sent to your Bluetooth-enabled computer, because your cell phone picked up a Bluetooth signal from your PC and automatically sent the data you designated for transfer. Five minutes later, when your friend calls you back, your Bluetooth-enabled home phone rings instead of your cell phone. The person called the same number, but your home phone picked up the Bluetooth signal from your cell phone and automatically re-routed the call because it realized you were home. And each transmission signal to and from your cell phone consumes just 1 mill watt of power, so your cell phone charge is virtually unaffected by all of this activity.
Bluetooth is essentially a networking standard that works at two levels:
- It provides agreement at the physical level — Bluetooth is a radio-frequency standard.
- It provides agreement at the protocol level, where products have to agree on when bits are sent, how many will be sent at a time, and how the parties in a conversation can be sure that the message received is the same as the message sent.
The big draws of Bluetooth are that it is wireless, inexpensive and automatic. There are other ways to get around using wires, including infrared communication. Infrared (IR) refers to light waves of a lower frequency than human eyes can receive and interpret. Infrared is used in most television remote control systems. Infrared communications are fairly reliable and don’t cost very much to build into a device, but there are a couple of drawbacks. First, infrared is a “line of sight” technology. For example, you have to point the remote control at the Tv or DVD player to make things happen. The second drawback is that infrared is almost always a “one to one” technology. You can send data between your desktop computer and your LAPTOP but not to your laptop computer and your PDA at the same time.
These two qualities of infrared are actually advantageous in some regards. Because infrared transmitters and receivers have to be lined up with each other, interference between devices is uncommon. The one-to-one nature of infrared communications is useful in that you can make sure a message goes only to the intended recipient, even in a room full of infrared receivers.
Bluetooth is intended to get around the problems that come with infrared systems. The older Bluetooth 1.0 standard has a maximum transfer speed of 1 megabit per second (Mbps), while Bluetooth 2.0 can manage up to 3 Mbps. Bluetooth 2.0 is backward-compatible with 1.0 devices.
Let’s find out how Bluetooth networking works
Bluetooth networking transmits data via low-power radio waves. It communicates on a frequency of 2.45 gigahertz (actually between 2.402 GHz and 2.480 GHz, to be exact). This frequency band has been set aside by international agreement for the use of industrial, scientific and medical devices (ISM)
Frequency Range of Bluetooth is in between 2.4 – 2.48 GHZ
A number of devices that you may already use take advantage of this same radio-frequency band. Baby monitors, garage-door openers and the newest generation of cord less phones all make use of frequencies in the ISM band. Making sure that Bluetooth and these other devices don’t interfere with one another has been a crucial part of the design process.
One of the ways Bluetooth devices avoid interfering with other systems is by sending out very weak signals of about 1 mill watt. By comparison, the most powerful cell phones can transmit a signal of 3 watts. The low power limits the range of a Bluetooth device to about 10 meters (32 feet), cutting the chances of interference between your computer system and your portable telephone or television. Even with the low power, Bluetooth doesn’t require line of sight between communicating devices. The walls in your house won’t stop a Bluetooth signal, making the standard useful for controlling several devices in different rooms.
Bluetooth can connect up to eight devices simultaneously. With all of those devices in the same 10-meter (32-foot) radius, you might think they’d interfere with one another, but it’s unlikely. Bluetooth uses a technique called spread-spectrum frequency hopping that makes it rare for more than one device to be transmitting on the same frequency at the same time. In this technique, a device will use 79 individual, randomly chosen frequencies within a designated range, changing from one to another on a regular basis. In the case of Bluetooth, the transmitters change frequencies 1,600 times every second, meaning that more devices can make full use of a limited slice of the radio spectrum. Since every Bluetooth transmitter uses spread-spectrum transmitting automatically, it’s unlikely that two transmitters will be on the same frequency at the same time. This same technique minimizes the risk that portable phones or baby monitors will disrupt Bluetooth devices, since any interference on a particular frequency will last only a tiny fraction of a second.
When Bluetooth-capable devices come within range of one another, an electronic conversation takes place to determine whether they have data to share or whether one needs to control the other. The user doesn’t have to press a button or give a command — the electronic conversation happens automatically. Once the conversation has occurred, the devices — whether they’re part of a computer system or a stereo — form a network. Bluetooth systems create a personal-area network (PAN), or piconet, that may fill a room or may encompass no more distance than that between the cell phone on a belt-clip and the headset on your head. Once a piconet is established, the members randomly hop frequencies in synchronizing manner so they stay in touch with one another and avoid other piconet that may be operating in the same room. Hence results in less interference between the networks…
And they do have some drawbacks like less range of effect…