The film Almost Famous is about the adventures of a reporter and a rock band, but the title works just as well to sum up the track record of the wireless communications technology known as Bluetooth.
Named for the 10th-century warrior king who united Denmark and Norway, Bluetooth is a design standard in place for power-conserving electronic devices that transmit modest amounts of data over short distances.
Developers of the standard, a group of communications giants led by companies including Ericsson of Sweden, Nokia of Finland and Intel, expected billions of Bluetooth products to be in homes and cars by now. The success has been more modest, partly because of delays in ironing out details and partly because of competition from other wireless standards.
Still, Bluetooth is making the leap into the automobile, enabling a driver to place hands-free calls from a personal cellphone -- even one tucked away in a purse -- using the speakers of the car's sound system and the built-in microphones that serve voice-controlled navigation systems. Some models allow numbers stored in a mobile phone to be copied to the car's system using the Bluetooth link.
Tens of millions of consumers already rely on Bluetooth technology to synchronize hand-held computers with desktop systems or to enter data from wireless keyboards. And Bluetooth dominates communications between headsets and cellphones carried in a pocket or on a belt.
The growth of Bluetooth in automobiles has come as more than 30 North American models from companies including BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota have made it available as standard or optional equipment, said Frank Viquez, a wireless technology analyst at ABI Research in Oyster Bay, New York.
Bluetooth is expected to be available in as many as 15 additional models next year.
"We estimate that, globally, 22 million cars will come from the factory fitted with Bluetooth by 2008," Viquez said.
By then, car owners and passengers may be using Bluetooth to connect laptop computers and other devices to display screens in their cars for games or entertainment -- wirelessly, of course. Bluetooth gear may also reduce the need for other wired connections, saving weight and adding design flexibility. And Bluetooth may link with sensors in the car for reporting of developing mechanical or electronic problems.
Such applications may make sense even though energy-saving benefits of Bluetooth are not as crucial in cars as they are in the world of hand-held electronics.
What counts in automotive applications is Bluetooth's attention to highly reliable communications within a 9m radius. Bluetooth gear would not be able to cope well with the huge data demands and longer signal distances needed to operate features like collision avoidance systems, but the extremities of even the largest Hummer are well within its reach.
Bluetooth devices operate in the unregulated 2.4-gigahertz part of the radio spectrum, which is also used by microwave ovens, cordless phones and garage-door openers. But radio components designed to the Bluetooth standard avoid interference and provide security by chopping data into tiny packets and hopping among 79 frequencies within the spectrum 1,600 times a second as they transmit the data packets.
Engineers who might have been interested in Bluetooth five years ago are today gravitating to Wi-Fi as a better platform for tasks which require large amounts of data to be transferred, including connecting to the Internet.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient
TWO CASES: The five allegedly conspired with conglomerates, threatening the nation’s governance and subverting the rules of ethical conduct, a deputy chief prosecutor said Taipei prosecutors yesterday charged three legislators and one former lawmaker with contravening the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例) in a case linked to former Pacific Distribution Investment Co (太平洋流通) chairman Lee Heng-lung’s (李恆隆) battle with the Far Eastern Group (遠東集團) over ownership of the Pacific SOGO Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) chain, while independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) was indicted in a separate case involving two funeral services companies and a plot of land in a national park. Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and former New Power Party legislator