SAN JOSE, Calif.—While Bluetooth has been moving steadily toward maturity, the spread of products based on the short-distance wireless networking technology has fallen far below expectations—a state of affairs that vendors, developers and devotees gathered to mull over Tuesday at this years Bluetooth Developers Conference.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group believes that ease-of-use is part of the solution. To help encourage Bluetooth vendors to start shipping more user-friendly devices, the SIG announced its “5-Minute Ready” program.
The program includes initiatives for providing Bluetooth designers and developers with improved resources, and for educating the public on Bluetooth and its use.
While theres room for improvement in the interfaces of current offerings, perhaps more important to success of the technology is getting more Bluetooth products in front of consumers.
Bluetooth was invented with mobile phones in mind, and the technologys most compelling uses involve wireless handsets. However, wireless carriers have been slow to offer Bluetooth-enabled phones to their subscribers and have generally not publicized the Bluetooth gear they do sell.
At the conference, the SIG stressed the benefits of Bluetooth to wireless carriers—by enabling flexible laptop or PDA to phone links, Bluetooth can help drive data usage on 2.5 and 3G networks.
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Support from wireless carriers will continue to be important, but the companies that comprise the Bluetooth SIG could stand to improve support for Bluetooth in their own products as well.
During a session on the Bluetooth 1.1 specification, SIG Chairman and Microsoft employee Mike Foley showed before and after slides of his Bluetooth-enabled desktop. Foley uses a Bluetooth headset, keyboard, mouse and printer, but he remarked that hed be able to sync his Pocket PC with his Windows desktop over Bluetooth “soon.”
Also under discussion at the conference was the 1.2 version of the Bluetooth specification, which Foley said would lower the barriers to Bluetooth adoption. With version 1.2, the specification will support, among other enhancements, adaptive frequency hopping. Bluetooth radios with AFH will survey for potential sources of interference, such as a channel on which an 802.11b wireless network is operating, and exclude the channel from its hopping pattern.
The 1.2 specification will reach the .9 draft stage in January, at which time developers will begin interoperability testing with 1.2 prototype devices. This early interoperability testing is another new initiative from the SIG, and they hope to fold information from the tests into the final 1.2 draft.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at [email protected].