The good, the bad and the reality about Bluetooth

With the backing of some of the biggest names in computers and consumer electronics, the wireless voice and data technology known as Bluetooth has attracted tremendous media and consumer attention over the last 18 months.

But as the launch of the first Bluetooth products looms in the fourth quarter, even its strongest proponents are worried that hype and competing claims about what it can do could cause user confusion or at worst even sink the technology before it sets sail.

The media and consumers have flocked to demonstrations of Bluetooth technology at trade shows around the world, dozens if not hundreds of companies have fixed launch dates for products by now, and the main backers of the technology say that more than 2,000 vendors have at least expressed interest in incorporating the technology into products ranging from mobile phones to laptop computers to personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Bluetooth has the potential to let all sorts of devices link up, and its proponents paint tantalizing pictures of how it could work.

“You could have a pair of mufflers – the headphones over your ears – and be mowing the lawn outside, listening to your Walkman when your phone rings inside, and automatically (it) stops the music to tell you that there is a call which you can then take,” suggested Christina Bj