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What is bluetooth?

A bluetooth headset

Bluetooth is a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances. The chip can be plugged into computers, digital cameras and mobile phones. Find out more about Bluetooth in this short guide.

WebWise Team | 10th October 2012

Bluetooth is a way of exchanging data wirelessly over short distances, and is an attempt to do away with your computer’s jungle of wiring.

Using a special radio frequency to transmit data, it creates a short range network. It is very secure and can connect up to eight devices (items of electronic equipment) at the same time. The chip can be plugged into items such as computers, digital cameras, mobile phones and faxes.

Bluetooth is particularly convenient in certain situations – for example, when transferring files from one mobile phone to another without cables. Sending music and photos between a PC and a mobile phone is another useful application.

How do I use Bluetooth?

You need to check that your device is able to use Bluetooth. You can use a dongle - something which plugs into your computer to enable it to use Bluetooth.

Every manufacturer of compatible devices will have their own instructions for accessing Bluetooth. For detailed instructions you will need to see the manual, but as a general guide:

To set up Bluetooth:

  1. Turn on, or enable, Bluetooth.
  2. Ensure your device is ‘visible’ and not ‘hidden’, so other nearby devices can pick up the signal.
  3. Give your device a name to identify it when connecting to other compatible equipment.

To establish a Bluetooth connection:

  1. Find the file you wish to send.
  2. Select the option to send it via Bluetooth - your device will search for other devices within range and display them.
  3. Scroll to the device you wish to connect with and select it.
  4. If the other device needs ‘pairing’, you will need to enter a passcode – a bit like a PIN number - and make sure it is entered on the other device.

When the connection is established, the data will start to send. You do not need to worry about a clear line of sight between devices.

Should I be worried about security?

If you are sending sensitive information over any wireless network you need to take precautions.

When any device tries to connect to yours, you - as the user - have to allow it before it can connect. In almost all cases, users can establish ‘trusted devices’ which can exchange data without asking permission.

You can increase security further by switching on the ‘non-discoverable’ mode and avoiding connection with other Bluetooth devices.

Why is it called Bluetooth?

The name ’Bluetooth’ reflects the Scandinavian origins of the technology. It is named after a 10th century Danish viking, King Harald Blåtand (translating as 'Bluetooth' in English).

He united and controlled Denmark and Norway, hence the association of uniting devices through Bluetooth. Legend has it that he liked eating blueberries - so much that his teeth became stained with the colour of the fruit, giving rise to his name!


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