If you own a smartphone, you’ve probably used Bluetooth technology more than a couple of times.
When you want to listen to your favorite tunes, you connect your Bluetooth headphones to your phone, and you listen away. If you have to transfer files between devices without using data, then you use Bluetooth, which is much faster.
WiFi is the most popular form of wireless connectivity today, but Bluetooth has better usability and versatility. Although hardly a day goes by without using Bluetooth technology, only a handful understand how it works. The million-dollar question thus becomes, how does Bluetooth work?
In this post, we’ll be looking at the intricacies of Bluetooth technology explaining, what it is, and how it works. That way, you can get a firm understanding of an essential piece of technology that you use almost every day.
What Is Bluetooth Technology?
Back in 1994, Dr. Jaap Haartsen invented the Bluetooth standard to replace RS-232 communication cables. Bluetooth technology is a wireless radio-wave technology that facilitates communication and data transfer between devices over short distances of between 10 to 30 ft. Although Bluetooth was invented in 1994, it entered the mobile scene in 1999 and is now compatible with most devices.
Most people use Bluetooth mostly for transferring data between devices. Another common use of Bluetooth technology is in audio devices, including headphones, earbuds, and speakers. If you own a car or even a boat, then a Bluetooth radio gear lets you listen to music and your favorite radio stations on the go.
How Does Bluetooth Work?
The advent of wireless technology enabled the interconnectivity of devices without the use of cables. In the past, if you wanted to transfer files between devices, you’d need a cable. You’d also need a cable to listen to music using your headphones or speaker.
As mentioned earlier, Bluetooth is a type of technology that enables wireless communication between devices over short distances. It allows devices to exchange data with each other using radio frequencies. These radio frequencies are like your standard AM/FM radio frequencies, but not quite the same.
For a firm understanding of how Bluetooth technology works, let’ use your phone and Bluetooth device as a perfect example. Say you want to connect your phone to your Bluetooth headphones to play your favorite tunes. So you turn on the Bluetooth on both devices, scan for the headphones, and connect the two devices.
Piconets or Personal Area Networks
In our case, we have two devices, your phone, and your headphones. The tech term for your phone, in this case, is the “master” Bluetooth device, and the headphones is the “slave” Bluetooth device. When the “master” device connects to the “slave” device, they form what is known as a Personal Area Network (PAN) or piconet.
Note that the “master” device can connect to multiple “slave” devices simultaneously. When these devices connect to the “master” device, they join the piconet and communicate with the master device. Once the devices establish communication, the “slave” devices uniformly jump from one frequency to another to stay in touch with the “master” device.
Piconets are tiny networks about the size of the room. These devices hop from one frequency to another to avoid interfering with other piconets.
The Bluetooth Transmitters
The “master” device, your smartphone, consists of Bluetooth transmitters that send out Bluetooth signals. Manufacturers make their devices (the slaves) with a specific address that falls into a category of addresses. When the phone sends out radio waves, the headphones find the specific address from the range of radio waves, then connects with your phone through that specific address.
The same thing happens with say a Bluetooth speaker that you want to connect. The speaker will skip all the other addresses, including the one meant for the headphones, and find its specific address. After that, it establishes its own personal area network with your phone.
Throughout the entire process, the “master” device has control over the entire network. It’s the one that forms and removes networks and facilitates communication.
Sometimes two or more piconets can join together to form what is called a scatternet. For instance, when you use two smartphones to connect to the same Bluetooth speaker.
How Secure Are Bluetooth Connections?
In any network, whether wired or wireless, the question of security must come up. In any Bluetooth connection, security measures must be in place to prevent unauthorized access. These measures put security in the hands of the users to decide what devices can join the piconet.
When setting up the process, you can pick “trusted devices” among the pack of slave devices. These devices can connect with the master without having to ask for permission. Devices that aren’t on the trusted devices list will have to ask for permission to join the PAN.
With Bluetooth connections, there are three levels of Bluetooth security, and they are:-
Security level 1– No protection against unauthorized access, other than the usual eavesdropping devices
Security level 2– Security against unauthorized access through the use of passwords. Established after you create the PAN.
Security level 3– Extra layer of protection after the password. It prevents data breaches and such like.
Why the Name Bluetooth?
It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Bluetooth technology is quite a marvel of the modern age, but why the name Bluetooth? We’re glad you asked.
If you think the name is an acronym for something techie, then you’re wide of the mark. In fact, the term Bluetooth has nothing to do with technology. It originates from one King Harald Gormsson of Denmark, who was famous for uniting Denmark and Norway.
He was also famous for his decayed tooth, which had a blue-grey color. The name “Bluetooth” symbolizes the unity of three companies, Nokia, Intel, and Ericsson, that collaborated to come up with the technology. Just like Harald united Denmark and Norway, so did the technology unite these three companies.
Incredible Technology for Incredible People
After this piece, we hope you can comfortably answer the question, how does Bluetooth work. Of course, if you want to learn more about Bluetooth technology, you can take an IT class, and you’ll be a Bluetooth guru. However, for casual coffee talk, the information above will suffice.
Listening to music via your Bluetooth headphones makes for a very enjoyable experience. For an even more enjoyable experience, check out the other pieces on the site.