10 Things to know about… Bluetooth®

1. Fun Fact: Whether you really need to know this or not is certainly a matter of interpretation, but where does the name Bluetooth® actually come from for the wireless standard developed in the 1990s?

Bluetooth® goes back to the Viking Harald Blatand (Bluetooth®), who united hostile Danish tribes into a kingdom in the 10th century. The Bluetooth® logo shows the initials HB in rune form. The name was suggested in 1997 by Intel’s Jim Kardach, who saw the name as symbolizing the unification of different communication protocols.

2. Who actually developed Bluetooth®?

The development was already initiated in 1989 at Ericsson, since 1998 the further development of the industry standard is managed by a consortium of companies, the Bluetooth® Special Interest Group (Bluetooth® SIG), founded in 1998 by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, and Toshiba and based in Kirkland / US-WA. Later, Microsoft, Motorola, 3com, Lucent and Apple joined. Meanwhile, the community of interest has over 34,000 member companies worldwide. It owns the Bluetooth® trademark and publishes the Bluetooth® specification but does not develop or sell any devices itself.

3. How it all started:

Bluetooth® Classic is a low-power radio standard that transmits data over 79 channels in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency band. Bluetooth® Classic supports device-to-device communication and is primarily used for wireless audio streaming. It has become the standard wireless protocol for wireless speakers, headphones, and in-car entertainment systems. Data transmission, for example for mobile printing, is also enabled by Bluetooth® Classic.

4. Meanwhile, there is a second type of signal, Bluetooth® Low Energy (also known as BLE):

BLE transmits very low-power data over 40 channels in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band and supports multiple communication topologies, ranging from point-to-point to broadcast to mesh, this supports the creation of reliable, large-scale device networks. Meanwhile, BLE is no longer used only for device communication as it was originally, but often as a technology for device location. While BLE used to support only simple presence and proximity functions, Bluetooth®® positioning and soon high-precision distance measurements are now possible.

BLE is independent of Bluetooth® Classic; the two technologies are not compatible but can coexist.

Bluetooth info graphic favendo
Source: www.bluetooth.com

5. Bluetooth® Low Energy was formerly called Wibree:

Wibree was developed by Nokia in 2006 as an adaptation of Bluetooth® Classic. In December 2009, it was integrated into Bluetooth® version 4.0 as Bluetooth® Low Energy. The first smartphone to integrate Bluetooth® 4.0 was the iPhone 4S from October 2011.

6. Modulation method:

Both Bluetooth® Classic and BLE employ GFSK (Gaussian Frequency Shift Keying), a special variant of frequency shift keying in which a Gaussian low-pass filter is added. The GFSK method is also used in the GSM standard.

7. The Bluetooth® SIG defines various profiles:

There are specifications for how a device works with a particular application, for devices using Bluetooth® Low Energy. In addition to mesh profiles where BLE devices communicate with each other, there are profiles for health apps, for sports and fitness apps, internet connection protocols, proximity detection, battery status, etc.

8. Compatibility:

Bluetooth® Low Energy has not only given a boost to the topics health and wellness, smart home and fitness, but also the Internet of Things benefits from the low power requirements of the hardware, the small size and low cost and the compatibility with a large number of operating systems. BLE 5.3 is currently supported by:

  • iOS 5 and later
  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • Windows 8 and later
  • Android 4.3 and later
  • BlackBerry 10
  • Linux 3.4 and later
  • Unison OS 5.2
  • macOS 10.10

9. BLE has various positioning features in the current version 5.3, which was released by the Bluetooth® SIG on July 13, 2021:

  • Presence (Advertising)
  • Proximity (RSSI)
  • Direction (via Angle of Arrival and Angle of Departure)

Currently not available but in work is Distance.

10. Perfect for RTLS:

The various positioning features make Bluetooth® Low Energy the perfect technology basis for Real Time Location Systems indoors. Using a BLE infrastructure, the position of any object or person equipped with a Bluetooth® asset tag can be located. In addition to classic tracking, indoor navigation can also be realized via Bluetooth®.


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