Bluetooth still looking a little blue

At a recent Wireless R&D symposium hosted by Agilent Technologies in Mississauga, Ont., a buzz was stirred around strategies for integrating Bluetooth technology.

Agilent, a high tech company focussed on high-growth markets in the communications, electronics, life sciences and healthcare industries, revealed some of its findings to its customers regarding design issues, product qualification and regulatory considerations of Bluetooth technology.

Bluetooth is a computing and telecommunications industry specification which details how mobile phones, computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) interconnect using a short-range wireless connection. Operating in the 2.4GHz band, Bluetooth transmits data at speeds of up to 723Kbps over distances of roughly 20 to 30 feet.

However, according to Agilent’s findings, there are some design issues surrounding Bluetooth, including the collocation of multiple transceivers in a cellular handset and the coexistence of these technologies; the key parameters and specifications that define an optimized design; which radio frequency (RF) parameters should be measured, and how they should be measured?

According to Jean-Marc Moreau, application engineer for Agilent, Bluetooth is just getting past the beginning stages.

“What we are seeing now are the early adopters (of the technology),” Moreau said. “It will still be a few years before adoption will be widespread.”

Although the technology has been developed, there are still kinks to work out regarding worldwide implementation, he added.

An example given at the Symposium showed that when bringing a Bluetooth wireless technology product to market, standards such as RF Type Approval are a requirement for most countries. The ability to import and market the product is not the same as permission to operate and use the transmitter or internal radiator, the research explained.

According to George Babut, senior engineer, network strategies for Rogers AT&T Wireless, Bluetooth is seen in the industry as a very important technology that is an enabler of connectivity between devices.

“In the near future these mobile phones that we are using now mainly for voice are going to provide much more diversified types of services – data services,” Babut said. “In my opinion, Bluetooth will be in most of the devices that are handling data in one way or another, in about two or three years. It will be omnipresent.”

Babut added that Rogers AT&T has begun a project utilizing Bluetooth technology, but declined to discuss it further, stating that it was too soon into the project.

Agilent research stated that in the next few years, customers can expect relatively inexpensive Bluetooth solutions. It is also predicted that Bluetooth will enable killer applications to add to the appeal of the technology.

However, as both Babut and Moreau explained, this is still the stage of early adoption. Mainstream Bluetooth-enabled devices are still a few years away and must leap over legal, operational and technological hurdles in the meantime.

For information on Bluetooth, visit Agilent is on the Web at