What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is a technology that allows you to share data between devices over short distances, usually up to about 10 metres. Like wifi, you don't need any wires to connect the devices but a big advantage of Bluetooth is that you don't need a wireless router! One Bluetooth device can make direct and secure contact with another device directly without having to go through another device. In fact, the official Bluetooth specifications state that you connect seven devices at once to yours using Bluetooth. However, practically speaking, three to four devices is the limit as any more than that and performance is often greatly reduced. The Bluetooth chip is found in many different places today, from phones, to cameras, GPS units, laptops, tablets and so on and can be used, for example, to send messages and transfer or stream files such as photos, music and video.
Making a connection
Connecting devices (or pairing them, as it's usually called) involves you making your device 'visible' or 'discoverable' to other Bluetooth devices by ticking a box in the settings. You usually give your device a name as well. This means that other devices can now see yours. If your friend wants to pair their phone with yours, they select your phone from a list of discoverable devices (which will include yours). They will be given or have to select a passcode to enter. A request is then sent to your phone and you confirm that it's okay to pair, confirming or entering the same PIN on your phone as your friend used. If you want to send a file to someone, you then just select the file and select the option to send it via Bluetooth. You will be given a list of names of the other Bluetooth devices you're paired to, select the target device and the file will be sent automatically.
Bluetooth can act as a drain on the power of a phone so it's a good idea to only have it enabled when you need to use it. You can set up 'trusted' devices so that you don't have to keep going through the authentication process each time you want to send a file to a particular person. Bluetooth is usually set up so that your device is discoverable for only a short window of time, typically two minutes but you can also make your device 'undiscoverable' so that you will only receive requests to pair and make connections with people you want to. Bluetooth is considered a very secure method of communication.
There are lots of uses for Bluetooth, apart from pairing phones and sharing files. You can transfer photos from your camera to a laptop without having to set up messy wired connections. You can connect your phone to a hands-free set in a car so that you can answer and make calls safely (and legally). you can stream music from a phone or MP3 player to a car radio. A search of the Internet should reveal many other applications.
Q1. Draw from memory the Bluetooth logo.
Q2. Turn on Bluetooth on your phone - you need to check if it has Bluetooth if you are not sure. Can you see the logo?
Q3. Pair your phone with someone else's phone and transfer a file or photo.
Q4. Set up a trusted Bluetooth user.
Q5. Make sure you know how to make your phone discoverable and also how to disable this.
Q6. What is the range of Bluetooth communications?
Q7. How many Bluetooth devices can pair together at the same time a) in theory and b) in practice.
Q8. What does PIN stand for when used in PIN code?
Q9. State two uses for Bluetooth from this article.
Q10. State one use of Bluetooth not mentioned in the article.
Find out where the name Bluetooth originates from. Use the Internet.