The convergence of computing and communications has been predicted for many years. Today's explosion of a myriad of new types of personal computing and communications devices—notebook computers, personal digital assistants, "smart" phones, two-way pagers, digital cameras and so on—has resulted in new ways for people to communicate and gain access to data. The advent of this pervasive computing, especially via wireless communications, enables these devices to be used in new settings: not only can people make voice calls from their automobile using a mobile phone, but also they can access the World Wide Web from a wireless notebook or handheld computer while at the airport or a shopping mall. We are rapidly moving toward a world where computing and communications become ubiquitous—not only at work but also in the home, in public places and in personal surroundings.
Until recently, enabling all of these devices to communicate with each other has been cumbersome, often involving the use of special cables to connect the devices together along with device-specific software that might use proprietary protocols. To exchange information among all of her personal devices, a person might need to carry as many cables as devices and still lack assurance that all the devices could interconnect. The inability to share information among devices or the difficulty in doing so limits their usefulness.
The Bluetooth™ technology enables devices to communicate seamlessly without wires. While Bluetooth wireless communication is first and foremost a means for cable replacement, it also enables many new applications—the use of a single mobile telephone as a cellular phone, cordless phone or intercom and the use of a notebook computer as a speakerphone, just to name two. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed in early 1998 by Ericsson®, Intel®, IBM®, Nokia® and Toshiba® to develop an open specification for globally available short-range wireless radio frequency communications. The SIG has published a specification for the Bluetooth radio and baseband along with a set of communication protocols comprising a software stack used with the Bluetooth radio hardware. The Bluetooth radio module design is optimized for very low power consumption, low cost, small footprint and use anywhere in the world. In addition to the core specification, the SIG has also published Bluetooth profiles that describe how to use the software protocols such that interoperability among all kinds of devices can be achieved, regardless of who manufactures these devices. Version 1.0 of the specification was published in July 1999. Today the Bluetooth Special Interest Group consists of nine promoter companies (joining the five founding companies noted above in the SIG's core group are 3Com®, Lucent®, Microsoft® and Motorola®) and well over 1,800 adopter companies from around the world, representing a diverse set of industries.
The specification and profiles continue to evolve as the SIG develops new ways to use the Bluetooth technology. The first products with Bluetooth wireless communications arrived in 2000 led by development tools, mobile telephones, audio headsets, notebook computers, handheld computers and network access points.