Bluetooth is a proprietary open wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength radio transmissions in the ISM band from 2400–2480 MHz) from fixed and mobile devices, creating personal area networks (PANs) with high levels of security.
Created by telecoms vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables. It can connect several devices, overcoming problems of synchronization.
Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which has more than 16,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The SIG oversees the development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. To be marketed as a Bluetooth device, it must be qualified to standards defined by the SIG. A network of patents is required to implement the technology and are only licensed to those qualifying devices; thus the protocol, though open, may be regarded as proprietary.
Bluetooth uses a radio technology called frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which chops up the data being sent and transmits chunks of it on up to 79 bands (1 MHz each; centered from 2402 to 2480 MHz) in the range 2,400–2,483.5 MHz (allowing for guard bands). This range is in the globally unlicensed Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency band. It usually performs 800 hops per second, with AFH enabled.
Bluetooth is a packet-based protocol with a master-slave structure. One master may communicate with up to 7 slaves in a piconet; all devices share the master’s clock. Packet exchange is based on the basic clock, defined by the master, which ticks at 312.5 µs intervals. Two clock ticks make up a slot of 625 µs; two slots make up a slot pair of 1250 µs. In the simple case of single-slot packets the master transmits in even slots and receives in odd slots; the slave, conversely, receives in even slots and transmits in odd slots. Packets may be 1, 3 or 5 slots long but in all cases the master transmit will begin in even slots and the slave transmit in odd slots.
Bluetooth provides a secure way to connect and exchange information between devices such as faxes, mobile phones, telephones, laptops, personal computers,printers, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, digital cameras, and video game consoles.
The Bluetooth Core Specification provides for the connection of two or more piconets to form a scatternet, in which certain devices simultaneously play the master role in one piconet and the slave role in another.