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When will it take off?
Shubha Murthy and Mahesh Rathod
is a peak into what vendors are doing to promote Bluetooth
technology and the many hurdles it has to cross before emerging
as the de facto standard for personal wireless computing
wireless technology is the marriage of the telecom and computing
industries, sans cables.
is set to revolutionize the personal connectivity
market by providing freedom from wired connections,"
says Ramgopal Vallath, country sales manger, 3COM India,
New Delhi. His words are an indicator to the worldwide trend
in the wireless domain that will emerge in the next two
or three years.
Bluetooth wireless technology, by eliminating the need to
deploy additional or proprietary cabling to connect individual
devices will take the personal domain from a wired matrix
to an unwired one. "The idea that triggered research
on this technology in the late 1990s was to eliminate the
use of cables altogether, enabling users to connect a wide
range of computing and telecommunications devices easily
and simply, without the need to buy, carry, or connect cables,"
points out Pankaj Vaish, head, Telecom Practice, HCL Perot
Systems, New Delhi.
of the primary advantages of Bluetooth technology is that
it uses the 2.4Ghz Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM)
radio frequency spectrum freely available in most countries.
This enables seamless communication among various Bluetooth
devices, hence creating opportunities for rapid ad hoc connections,
and the possibility for automatic, unconscious connections
Bluetooth can be used for a variety of purposes, it is also
expected to potentially replace multiple cable connections
via a single radio link creating the possibility of using
mobile data in various applications.
a lot of work is happening on the vendor side, wherein vendors
of mobile devices are embedding Bluetooth into their products,
the actual number of Bluetooth-enabled products available
is just a trickle. However, this market is expected to explode
soon. According to Cahners-Instat, a market research firm,
the number of Bluetooth-enabled devices is expected to reach
700 million by 2004.
is just beginning to see the light of day. Devices implementing
Bluetooth have only been introduced into the market in the
last five-six months. However, the specifications are continuously
being worked upon," explains Vallath of 3COM.
the efforts are focused on developing new products around
yet to be seen and tested," says Sukant, vice president,
DataCom, TENET India Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore.
Bluetooth Special Interest Group, comprising of industry
heavyweights like IBM, Nokia, Ericsson and over 2000 other
small and big companies, has gone a long way in promoting
Bluetooth technology worldwide. Currently, SIG is working
with worldwide regulatory bodies to secure approval for
the use of Bluetooth wireless technology radio devices throughout
the world. Thus it is only when the Bluetooth technology
will become broadly available that worldwide compliance
will be achieved.
Uma, product manager, Motorola India Electronics Pvt. Ltd.,
Bangalore, "One of the products soon to be expected
in the market is the Bluetooth radio which will operate
on the globally available 2.45Ghz ISM 'free band', allowing
international travelers to use Bluetooth-enabled equipment
anywhere in the world."
initial market estimations by market research pundits peg
a figure of over 100 million Bluetooth-enabled cell phones,
and several million communication devices, ranging from
headsets and portable PCs to desktop computers and notebooks
by the year 2002. According to another estimate,
by 2004, 75 percent of all mobile devices will support
all these lofty projections about the future of Bluetooth,
there are a lot of factors that influence the acceptance
of this technology. To begin with, as Pankaj Vaish from
HCL Perot says, "Bluetooth has to receive the overwhelming
support of all digital and computer equipment manufacturers
to become a basic unit in the production process. Acceptance
by those companies outside the SIG will hold
back the implementation of Bluetooth in all devices in the
Bluetooth to be successful in the market, there will, in
the first place, have to be a need for services capable
of Bluetooth applications. Cellular phones and personal
PCs will have to be built exclusively for the purpose of
demonstrating and testing how this technology will work."
instance, Ericsson has begun developing devices for the
sole purpose of exploring Bluetooth performance and acceptance
in the market.
what can be gathered is that Bluetooth as a technology
has to be accepted unequivocally by all vendors and manufacturers,
which alone will guarantee compatibility among the array
of products of various vendors so important for seamless
protocol stacks can be embedded in mobile phones, palmtops,
laptops, consumer appliances, medial equipment, automobiles
and so on.
wireless technology will virtually eliminate the need for
business travelers to purchase or carry numerous proprietary
cables by enabling one-to-one and one-to-many connections
among PCs, mobile phones and other devices, such as printers
and display monitors.
Bluetooth applications are file transfer, data synchronization
(schedule, telephone book), data exchange (business cards
etc.), voice Transmission (headset
and cordless telephony), image transfer, LAN Access (to
Ethernet, Token Ring, Firewire, USB...) and Dial-up
Networking (Internet/Intranet Bridge) Merits
and Demerits There
are many merits and demerits with Bluetooth as there are
for any upcoming technology that is yet to reach maturity.
"The merit that clearly stands out is the ability of
the technology to take us into the wireless world with point-to-multi-point
connectivity to any device or into any existing application
and is not limited to line of sight," points out Pankaj
Vaish from HCL Perot Systems.
continues, "What are seen, as major limitations are
its speed and range. But these are the specifications for
PAN (Personal Area Network), so one has to bear with them."
main advantage of Bluetooth is that vendors can build it
into their devices. With a low cost to consumers, Bluetooth
seems like a logical answer to wireless connectivity. The
fast hopping scheme to the free frequency it runs off of,
Bluetooth is a win win situation for the user. Bluetooth
will revolutionize the way business is done today. If the
SIG produces products quick enough and markets this technology
in the right way, Bluetooth will exceed the expectations
of those who are directly correlated with it.
Sukant of TENET the cost factor makes Bluetooth an attractive
option for the personal wireless networking. "The strength
of Bluetooth lies in the minimal hardware dimensions, low
priced components and the low power consumption. The diversity
in product offerings (mobile phones, PDAs, computers, computer
hardware, notebooks etc) from companies in the Bluetooth
SIG and their broad support for the technology creates a
unique market position," he explains.
P. Sharadhichandra Babu, director, Adamya Computing Technologies
Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, agrees that Bluetooth is an ideal
candidate for economic implementation in the wireless domain,
he sees the lack of interoperability among the various standards
as a major drawback.
despite the benefits that Bluetooth offers, it is the vendors
who will ultimately make or mar the advance of this technology.
The vendors will have to arrive on a common platform and
make a concerted effort to bring about certain standardization
among the various bluetooth-enabled products to ensure ubiquitous
implementation and thus widespread use.
by the fact that Palm Computing, IBM, Ericsson, Nokia, Kodak
and many other companies have already announced that Bluetooth
devices will be commercially available in late 2001, in
addition to the aggressive promotional efforts put in by
SIG members, perhaps, Bluetooth will bring about the much
awaited revolution in the wireless domain.
Murthy and Mahesh Rathod can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
aim of Bluetooth wireless technology is the marriage of
the telecom and computing industries, sans cables. One of
the primary advantages of Bluetooth is that it uses the
2.4Ghz ISM radio frequency spectrum freely available in
is working with worldwide regulatory bodies to secure approval
for the use of Bluetooth wireless technology radio devices
throughout the world.