Bluetooth -- Proto-Munchins?

Jim Whitehead (
Wed, 8 Jul 1998 14:26:25 -0700

So, while sipping my coffee this morning and reading IEEE Spectrum's Newslog
column, a brief piece on a technology called "Bluetooth" caught my eye.

On May 20, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba announced that they were
working on a technology called Bluetooth, an RF technology that makes it
possible for hand-held computers and cellular phones to exchange data with
PCs or other stationary machines. Bluetooth will use portions of the 2.45
GHz radio spectrum.

Casting around on the Web for more information, I found this press release:

It describes Bluetooth, and notes the possibility of interference with other
devices operating in thie frequency spectrum. It also mentions that there
will not be any licensing fees for users of Bluetooth technologies, and that
typical uses are expected to be cellular phone email to computer transfers,
PDA to compter transfers, etc., which will happen *automatically* as soon as
the cell phone, PDA, etc. gets within range of the computer (no explicit
synchronization step needed).

Searching further, I find this gem, published in "Spread Spectrum News",
online edition:

As you might expect from "Spread Spectrum News", they absolutely *love*
Bluetooth. The article also notes that other companies have signed on to
develop Bluetooth applications, companies like Motorola, Qualcomm, 3COM
Palm, VLSI and Lucent. Hmm, sounds like it has pretty strong support.

It also describes some interesting scenarios of use:

Users will be alerted to, and can respond to, incoming e-mail
via their mobile phone, even while their mobile PC remains in
its carrying case. When the PC receives an e-mail message, an
alert will sound on the mobile phone. It is then possible to
browse incoming e-mails immediately, reading the contents on
the display of the mobile phone. Users will be able to access
the Internet via a completely wireless connection routed either
through a mobile phone, or a wired connection such as the PSTN,
an ISDN line, or LAN. Users will be able to send an instant postcard
by cordlessly connecting a camera to a mobile phone or any wire-bound
connection. Users could add comments to their snapshots using a mobile
phone or mobile PC, and send them instantly to recipients anywhere
in the world.

The article also gives surprisingly detailed technical specifications:

* Based upon a small, high performance integrated radio
transceiver, each of which is allocated a unique 48-bit
address derived from the IEEE 802 standard.

* Operate in the unrestricted 2.45GHz ISM free band,
which is available globally although slight variation
of location and width of band apply

* Range set at 10m to optimize for target market of mobile
and business user

* Gross data rate 1Mbit/s, with second generation plans to
increase to 2 Mbit/s

* One-to-one connections allow maximum data transfer rate of
721 kbits/s (3 voice channels)

* Uses packet switching protocol based on frequency hop scheme
with 1600 hops/s to enable high performance in noisy radio
environments. The entire available frequency spectrum is used
with 79 hops of 1Mhz bandwidth, analogous to the IEEE 802.11 standard

* Low power consumption drawing only 0.3mA in standby mode
enables maximum performance longevity for battery powered
devices. During data transfer the maximum current drain is
30mA. However during pauses or at lower data rates the drain
will be lower.

So, the question in my mind is whether this Bluetooth technology can be
adapted to create multiple simultaneous one-way connections between
Bluetooth devices, and hence act as a testbed for Munchins ideas.

- Jim