Vendors unveil Bluetooth applications

Bluetooth technology has been revealed in a number of guises at the Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Bluetooth technology has been revealed in a number of guises at the Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Although many applications exhibited were still at the research stage, they hinted at everything from instant messaging between personal digital assistants (PDAs) in an ad-hoc network to simple hands-free phones in a car.

Bluetooth is designed to offer low-speed, short-distance wireless communications with low-cost and low-power requirements.

Researchers from Philips showed a Bluetooth-equipped PDA roaming from one Bluetooth access point to another. This application could allow visitors to a public space to maintain Internet or local area network access throughout the building without wires.

The researchers also demonstrated Context-Aware Messaging Platform (CAMP), which could be used in airports or shopping centres to send information to users based on their identity, location or activities. For example, travellers could arrive at an airport, log in to the Bluetooth network and immediately receive their personal flight information.

CAMP could even be used today, with the information being sent to a Bluetooth phone in the form of SMS messages.

Visteon demonstrated a Bluetooth network linked to a car's audio system, which would allow drivers to use a mobile phone hands-free without a phone cradle. Phone cradles are inconvenient because phone models change during the typical lifetime of a car, and different drivers of the same car may have phones that require different cradles, a Visteon engineer said.

Car makers want to offer the technology next year, and the system will undergo interoperability testing at a Bluetooth event in January, with phones from vendors such as Nokia.

Toshiba demonstrated instant messaging between two Toshiba PDAs in an ad-hoc Bluetooth network. Each PDA was equipped with a Bluetooth network access module on a secure digital (SD) card, which is much smaller than a Compact Flash card.

Toshiba will introduce the SD Bluetooth module in the first quarter of next year to go into PDAs. The devices will also have a Compact Flash slot, and Toshiba already makes a Compact Flash Bluetooth module.

Roving Networks demonstrated a home Bluetooth network with a simple application that turns a PDA into a universal remote control.

However, the company's main aim is to equip its access points, the central communication hubs for Bluetooth networks, for custom applications in vertical industries. Roving Networks is working with one customer on a network of Bluetooth-equipped sensors that can monitor conditions such as heat and vibration in a manufacturing facility.

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