Rallying Behind Bluetooth

Developers unveil products that coexist with 802.11b technology and WLANs.

Though long touted as a replacement to cable, Bluetooth is now being sold to the enterprise as an adjunct to 802.11b WLANs as well as wireless WANs.

At the Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Francisco next week, Bandspeed Inc. and Open Interface North America Inc. will unveil a jointly developed chip set that enables Bluetooth devices to coexist with wireless LANs that run on 802.11b technology. The transceiver uses adaptive frequency hopping to discover free space on the 2.4GHz band, which supports both Bluetooth and 802.11b devices.

The transceiver chip set, which uses a radio from National Semiconductor Corp., should be available in products in the second half of next year, according to officials at Bandspeed, in Austin, Texas.

Meanwhile, Mobilian Corp. plans to release in the second half of next year its TrueRadio chip set, which supports 802.11b and Bluetooth simultaneously. The company hopes to have the first working demonstration of an analog test board generating both signals ready in time for the conference, said officials at the Hillsboro, Ore., company.

The difference between the Mobilian and Bandspeed chip sets, according to Bandspeed CEO Michael Luther, comes down to an issue of collaborative vs. noncollaborative.

"We dont require the Bluetooth baseband to collaborate with the WiFi [802.11b] baseband," Luther said. "Theres no communication between the two. The Bluetooth device just avoids interference with the wireless LAN."

IT professionals said the coexistence issue is a valid one. "If I had a Bluetooth cell phone and a Bluetooth PDA [personal digital assistant] that were always connected exchanging contact information, but at the same time that PDA had an 802.11 connection for e-mail, then they would have to work together," said Jorge Abellas-Martin, CIO at Arnold Worldwide, in Boston, and an eWEEK Corporate Partner.

In addition to support in WLANs, Bluetooth continues to receive support for use in cell phones and other small devices, which will require cooperation with WANs.

Silicon Wave Inc., of San Diego, will announce this week and demonstrate at the Bluetooth conference two radio modems: One works in conjunction with CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) chip sets; the other works in conjunction with GSM (Global System for Mobility).

On the developer front, Extended Systems Inc. will announce at the show that its software development kit, XtndAccess Blue SDK, will now support the new Bluetooth printer profile, a long-awaited feature in the Bluetooth specification that enables wireless printing. The Boise, Idaho, company also will demonstrate XtndAccess SyncML SDK, which enables developers to incorporate the SyncML synchronization protocol in mobile communication devices.

Red-M Communications Ltd. will announce products that focus on the needs of financial services and management consulting companies with large sales forces, said officials at the Wexham Springs, England, company.