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Wireless Technology : A Blue-Chip Future

What is Bluetooth, and what makes it so revolutionary?
Bluetooth is a surprisingly simple method of electronic communication that will make cables obsolete. Instead of plugging machines into each other-a TV to a DVD player, a laptop to a printer-Bluetooth allows the exchange of information via radio waves transmitted by chips implanted in each device. It operates on the 2.4 GHz radio band, which is free, unregulated, and so strong that it transmits data some 50 percent faster than most DSL downloads. And each Bluetooth-enabled device is programmed with its very own code, so no one can rearrange your appointment schedule using his PDA.

What will Bluetooth enable you to do?
Most descriptions of Bluetooth’s capabilities begin with the word imagine. As in: Imagine working on your Dell laptop in a car in New York while you’re on the phone with a co-worker in Chicago who’s using an iMac, then conferencing in a client on her Palm VII in Stockholm-and everyone’s looking at the same document and making changes in real time, without having to go online. Well, believe the hype. Bluetooth chips will allow seamless and, of course, wireless communication between a wide array of machines-phones, computers, toasters, MP3 players, you name it. No modems to tote around, and no “Unable to open attachment” error messages. Ever.

When will the promises become reality?
Ericsson Mobile Communications, the company that started the Bluetooth frenzy, has already introduced the T28, a $200 mobile phone that works around the world. IBM says its Bluetooth WorkPad PDAs could see daylight by January. Optimistic analysts predict sales of Bluetooth-enabled devices could total $1 billion by the end of 2001.

Where did Bluetooth come from?
Ericsson created Bluetooth as an office-based local area network in 1994. The company soon realized that if Bluetooth could work in an office, it could just as easily be used on a much bigger network, like, you know, Earth. (Right now, Bluetooth only operates within a 33-foot range.) To realize that promise, literally every major electronics manufacturer in the world would have to be onboard. So far, some 2,000 companies-small names like Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Toshiba, Lucent, Sony, and 3Com-have swallowed their competitive pride and joined hands. For $100 a month, they can buy a listing on the official Web site (www.bluetooth.com) so that other Bluetooth companies can find partnership opportunities.

So what’s the smart investment play?
Bluetooth isn’t a company, so you can’t buy its stock per se. The closest you can get is to start scooping up shares of participating companies. Ericsson, of course, stands to profit handsomely should Bluetooth catch on. You can find a list of the other member
companies of Bluetooth’s “special interest group” on its Web site.

How did they come up with that name?
Bluetooth is named after King Harald Bluetooth, a heroic 10th-century Danish ruler who united Denmark and conquered Norway, creating a sizeable local area network of his own.
Reprinted courtesy of a href=”//www.mbajungle.com/”>MBAJungle.

March 12, 2001
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