From the July 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

We hope you're not sick of hearing about Bluetooth. But you may wonder when it's going to actually arrive in your office. Well, the wait is over. We've flung out our tech lasso and roped in a variety show's worth of Bluetooth devices that are taking advantage of this much-hyped, yet somewhat elusive, wireless technology today.

Because Bluetooth hasn't been hogging headlines as much lately, here's a quick refresher. Named after a 10th century Scandinavian king who united Norway and Denmark, the technology is designed to work at ranges under 10 meters. As such, it doesn't really compete head-to-head with Wi-Fi. It can be considered a complementary technology. For more information, look to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group home page at www.bluetooth.com.

It turns out that Bluetooth is good for exactly what they said it'd be good for: short-range wireless exchange of data and voice. Showing up in PDAs, laptops and cell phones, it offers convenience and time savings for the on-the-go entrepreneur. We may yet reach the point where coupons are beamed to your cell phone when you walk into Staples, but don't hold your breath.

Instead, imagine strolling into a room with a printer, waving your handheld in the air and printing off your schedule for the day. Now go do it. The Epson Bluetooth Print Adapter lets enabled portable devices like PDAs or laptops print on the fly. Connect the adapter to the parallel port of certain Epson printers, install the driver on your portable hardware, and you're good to go.

Moving on to network applications, check out the Pico Communications $490 (all prices street) PicoBlue Internet Access Point. It's pricey, but it allows your Bluetooth-enabled devices, particularly PDAs, to piggyback on your existing network. Visit www.pico.net for information and compatibility.

Bluetooth is also establishing a symbiotic relationship with mobile phones. Ericsson's T39M and Motorola's T280i are notable examples of enabled models. The convenience really kicks in when you add a Bluetooth headset, such as Motorola's $199 Bluetooth Headset and Plantronics' $200 M1500. Hands-free is not just a good idea; in some places, it's the law.

On the slightly more exotic side of things, you'll find the Ensure Technologies ZyLoc BT-1 computer security system. The BT-1 uses Bluetooth to determine a key card-wearing computer user's proximity to the machine. When the person gets out of range, the computer automatically goes into protected mode. It will also work alongside biometrics and password protection if you have it. With security on the minds of growing businesses, this is an interesting application for the short-range technology.

Bluetooth's tortoise crawl from hot hype to reality led some people to declare the technology DOA already. But with backing from a large manufacturer and continued strong interest in wirelessness of every stripe, it looks to have a healthy future filling the short-range connection niche. If Bluetooth's convenience factor fits in well with your entrepreneurial lifestyle and budget, don't hesitate to add it to your arsenal. Businesses everywhere are going wireless, and Bluetooth is here to help the revolution along.

Shopping List
Picking your add-on doesn't have to be like pulling blueteeth. The details to make your choice easier:

PRODUCTCONTACTTYPEFEATURESSTREET PRICE
ENSURE TECHNOLOGIES
ZyLoc BT-1
(734) 668-8800
www.ensuretech.com
Computer security systemProximity-activated, hands-free$199
EPSON
Bluetooth Print Adapter
(800) GO-EPSON
www.epson.com
Print adapterWorks with Palm Bluetooth Card and other devices$129
MOTOROLA
Bluetooth Headset
(800) 331-6456
www.motorola.com
Cordless headset2.5 hours of talk time, 35 hours standby$199
PALM
Palm Bluetooth Card
(800) 881-7256
www.palm.com
Palm expansion cardIncludes Documents to Go software$129
PICO COMMUNICATIONS
PicoBlue Internet Access Point
(408) 366-9888
www.pico.net
Access PointAllows acces to LAN and Internet$495
PLANTRONICS
M1500 Cordless Headset Solution
(800) 544-4660
www.plantronics.com
Cordless headset for mobile phonesAdapts non-Bluetooth$200