A short-range wireless technology that communicates via a frequency-hopping transceiver over the 2.4-gigahertz radio frequency, a space known as the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) band. Bluetooth was originally conceived as a low cost, low power, short-range technology that would replace cables on such devices as mobile phone headsets, handsets and portable computers. However, its promoters soon envisioned the creation of “personal area networks” in which computers could be wirelessly connected to printers, audio could be transmitted over short distances (for example, to the rear speakers in surround setups), and remote control of PDAs or other appliances could be easily implemented. Some people have referred to it as a sort of wireless USB, which is a pretty apt description in many respects.
First conceived in 1994 by Ericsson Mobile Communications (now a part of Sony), by 1998 the Bluetooth Special Interest Group included industry giants Intel, IBM, Toshiba and Nokia. Today more than 2000 companies produce or are developing Bluetooth enabled products. Apple Computers incorporate Bluetooth compatibility that allows keyboards, mice and other peripherals to wirelessly connect to the main unit. While Bluetooth originally had a transmission range of only 10 meters, today, three power classes exist for Bluetooth devices, the most powerful allowing transmissions up to 100 meters.
Bluetooth is a different protocol from Wi-Fi, but both occupy a section of the 2.4 GHz ISM band that is 83 MHz wide. Bluetooth uses a technology called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) that allows it to hop between 79 different 1 MHz-wide channels in this band whenever it encounters interference from other transmissions.