Bluetooth is in just about everything these days but do we know what it does and how it works? Two very important questions that will be answered in this article, but first—a little background.
Bluetooth has been around since 1989. Originally called “short-link” radio technology, Bluetooth was started by Nils Rydbeck, then CTO of Ericsson Mobile, and Johan Ullman, a Swiss inventor, scientist and medical doctor who held patents for technology in today’s wireless headsets.
The name Bluetooth comes from Harald Bluetooth, a tenth-century king of Norway and Denmark who united clashing Danish tribes into a single kingdom. Now, Bluetooth technology unites our devices. Those within a short distance of each other can communicate—headsets, keyboards, etc—using a single system. Without cables!
Every product with Bluetooth has a little computer chip inside it that contains a Bluetooth radio, and software that allows it to pair with other devices. It’s wireless, inexpensive and automatic, and makes transmitting and receiving data across devices incredibly simple. But this wonderful invention didn’t just happen—it arose to solve a problem.
For devices to talk to each other, they have to agree on some things. How will they talk? How much data will be sent? What language will they use? Just like communicating with people across different cultures and in different languages, devices need to understand each other to be able to work together. Enter Bluetooth, a communication standard for devices to work together.
Bluetooth devices automatically detect and connect to other devices with Bluetooth enabled because they use the same radio waves. And the reason you can pair so many different devices is because there are 79 different frequencies within these waves! If one channel is already taken, they switch to find another one. This happens more than you’d think—pairs of devices are constantly shifting frequencies, sometimes up to a thousand times per second. All so we can enjoy the end result of playing our music through headphones and typing on wireless keyboards. Ignorance is bliss, right?
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