Bluetooth unveils ease-of-use initiative

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) kicked off this week's Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Jose with an initiative...

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) kicked off this week's Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Jose with an initiative to make it easier for consumers to set up products that use the short-range wireless technology.

The "Five-Minute Ready" programme will include implementation guides for vendors, reference testing platforms and an interoperability testing facility sponsored by the SIG.

For consumers, it includes a redesigned Web site with a feature for helping buyers find potential pairs of Bluetooth products. The SIG will also come up with a standard lexicon for the technology, in 33 languages, in part to foster better user manuals.

All the initial parts of the initiative will be in place by the end of the first quarter of 2003 and other elements may be added later, according to SIG executive director Mike McCamon, who gave a keynote address at the show yesterday.

The industry consortium has faced some criticism in the past for not ensuring that developers implement Bluetooth in the same way, which, some observers said, has frustrated users and slowed adoption of the technology. These new steps should help ensure consistency among products, McCamon said.

McCamon acknowledged that Bluetooth, standardised in May 1998, has lost some momentum since its early days. Among the key problems, it turned out, was that there was no target for interoperability efforts in the industry, he said.

If consumers are unable to make one Bluetooth-enabled product to work with another one from a different vendor, they will be turned off by the technology, McCamon warned the audience.

Bluetooth is designed to transmit data at a maximum of 768K bps (bits per second) over a maximum distance of 10 metres. Originally promoted for wireless "personal area networks" of PCs, handheld computers, peripherals and printers on a user's desk, it has been most widely adopted in mobile phones.

Key applications initially include linking a phone to a headset, making it easier to connect a phone to a car's audio system and using a data-enabled phone as a modem for a notebook PC or handheld computer.

The Bluetooth Developers Conference finishes tomorrow. More information is available at www.bluetooth.com.

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