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Wireless chips let you roam

At the heart of many wireless devices will be what is called a Bluetooth chip. Its radio-frequency (RF) technology enables users to make voice and data connections up to 100 metres from a network by u...


February 1, 2001  


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At the heart of many wireless devices will be what is called a Bluetooth chip. Its radio-frequency (RF) technology enables users to make voice and data connections up to 100 metres from a network by using amplification. In normal operating mode, the maximum distance is 10 metres.

Ericsson of Sweden, the chief developer of the chip, and such companies as 3Com, Lucent and Microsoft, are promoting the chip’s advantages, and leading it to market. As envisioned, the chip will go into all mobile devices, including telephones, laptop computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs) — once the price of each chip falls to around $5.

However, there might be some unintended consequences if the chip does take off in the next few years, as many analysts predict it will. “If we have all those Bluetooth devices riding on the same bandwidth, it will get awfully busy out there,” says Tod Maffin, a technology futurist in Vancouver.

Mafin adds that in the portion of the spectrum assigned to Bluetooth (2.4 GHz), there is a limited amount of space. “Imagine a boardroom full of executives, each with a laptop, a cell-phone, a Palm Pilot [PDA] and a pager, and they are Bluetoothing each other,” he says. “It’s going to be a nightmare.”


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