Connecting Bluetooth-enabled devices to each other is called ‘pairing’. And Bluetooth pairing is more simple than you’d expect. First, you need to have a master device and a slave device, both Bluetooth capable. For example, when you’re trying to connect your smartphone to a pair of wireless earphones, the phone is the master and the earphones, the slave. Turn the wireless earphones on, then switch your smartphone’s Bluetooth on. Your phone will find all Bluetooth devices nearby. Simply tap on your earphones in the list, and you’re connected!
If the smartphone or laptop you wish to use as the master does not provide native Bluetooth support, you can connect it to a Bluetooth dongle. Bluetooth dongles are usually installed into USB ports, but depending on your device you may need a different type of dongle.
Bluetooth: a still-evolving pioneer of the wireless communication age
The first Bluetooth standard was announced in 1999, and since then, this pioneering technology has been consistently improved. Every new version has brought with it enhanced specs, boosting data transmission speeds, improving power consumption, and extending reach. The latest version, 5.0, has four times the reach and twice the transmission speeds of version 4.2, which it replaces.
Key changes we can expect from the next generation of Bluetooth include greater range, even faster transmission speeds, and mesh networking to allow Bluetooth devices to share data amongst themselves. Bluetooth Mesh was announced by the Bluetooth SIG in 2017 as a means to connect multiple devices using Bluetooth mesh networking. While conventional Bluetooth devices only connect on a one-on-one basis within relatively short distances, the next generation of Bluetooth aims to expand into the IoT (Internet of Things) market. This includes applications such as building automation and sensor networks. Bluetooth is continually evolving, and it’ll be exciting to see what better changes the technology will bring to our everyday lives.
This series explores the many wireless communication technologies that make our lives as convenient as they are. In the first part, we explored the story of Bluetooth. Coming up: Wi-Fi, NFC, and other key technologies that have brought wireless into the mainstream. Stay tuned!
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