Billions of Bluetooth integrated devices are produced around the world, making up a huge proportion of tech industry sales. People in all professions and all walks of life rely on Bluetooth to make their lives a little less tangled. That being said, what is Bluetooth, and how does it work?
Bluetooth was originally developed by an engineer in Sweden who wanted to create a way for desktop and cellular devices to communicate with one another quickly and easily. As their project continued to build and show promise, his burgeoning team eventually settled on the name “Bluetooth,” a reference to a 10th century Scandinavian King who united Denmark and Norway during his reign. Just like the monarch of old, they wanted to unite the numerous disparate technological subindustries under one standard.
Any Bluetooth device consists necessarily of two basic parts; a radio device to transmit a signal, and a link controller.
The radio device produces “ultra high frequency waves” at around 2.45 GHz. This is far too high for humans to detect and is also high enough to not run into problems from things like Wi-FI obstructing the signal. Another feature that limits unwanted interference is the small voltage that’s powering this signal. Capped at just 2.5 milliwatts, the range of the Bluetooth signals only reaches about 10 meters.
The link controller is a little more complicated. In most cases, this is a CPU that’s in charge of interpreting incoming signals in addition to making sure the data connection is secure and stable through a process called “automatic repeat querying.” This makes it more complicated (and more expensive) than classic radio technology that’s been around for a century.
Bluetooth, as you may know, finds its niche in things like headphones, controllers, and microphones. Basically, anything that used to require a wire can now be replaced with this nifty technology.
Wi-Fi serves a similar role; however, they have a few key differences. In almost all cases, Wi-Fi is centered around a single access point. For example, a building may have just one router that all devices speak to, and connect to each other in. Alternatively, Bluetooth is almost always a direct line of communication. This makes a noticeable and important difference for things like audio and controls, where milliseconds can make the difference between something feeling responsive and something feeling sluggish.