Bluetooth Babble

Not all wireless gadgets speak the same language.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2003 issue of . Subscribe »

The vision: You're cruising the freeway in your office on wheels and need to call a client. You slip on your Bluetooth headset and voice-dial your cell phone. Later, your phone wirelessly zaps the day's contacts to your PC or printer.

Unfortunately, in real life, it's seldom that simple. Not all Bluetooth gadgets seem to speak the same dialect, says Gartner Inc. research director William Clark--not without some fiddling on your part.

Gartner estimates that businesses will spend $70 per employee per year working out the handshake and security settings of Bluetooth devices. Instead of supporting the kind of independent interoperability testing that, say, Wi-Fi radios get, Bluetooth manufacturers occasionally hold "unplug fests" to ferret out incompatibilities.

Most Bluetooth products ship with security turned on. But with so many different interfaces and default configurations, "A naïve user could be walking around with the device wide open and not really know it," warns Clark.

Bluetooth chipset shipments are expected to double next year, to 360 million, so Bluetooth isn't going away, and Microsoft's recent support could lend the "standard" some uniformity. But you'll want to adopt a single company-wide profile and make sure everyone adheres to it, says Clark. Bluetooth still has a few cavities to fill.


Daniel Tynan, a writer in Wilmington, North Carolina, writes about technology for a variety of publications.

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