Bluetooth technology is the global wireless standard enabling the Internet of Things (IoT).
Created in 1994, Bluetooth® technology was conceived as a wireless alternative to data cables by exchanging data using radio transmissions. The name Bluetooth came from a tenth century Danish King, Harald Blåtand or, in English, Harold Bluetooth. As the story goes, King Blåtand helped unite warring factions in parts of what are now Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Similarly, Bluetooth technology was created as an open standard to allow connectivity and collaboration between disparate products and industries.
One of the most popular applications for Bluetooth historically has been wireless audio—headsets and hands-free connectivity in cars to wireless speakers and headphones that stream music from your phone or tablet. This uses a version of Bluetooth called BR/EDR (bit rate/enhanced data rate) that is optimized for sending a steady stream of high quality data (i.e. music) in a power efficient way.
With the advent of Bluetooth Smart (BLE or low energy), developers are now able to create small sensors that run off tiny coin-cell batteries for months, and in some cases, years. Many of these Bluetooth sensors use so little energy that developers are starting to find ways to use scavenged energy, like solar and kinetic, to power them—a potentially unlimited life from a power perspective. This allows you to find Bluetooth technology in billions of devices today, everything from phones to headsets to basketballs and socks—the use cases are limited only by a developer’s imagination.
BR/EDR and Bluetooth Smart are fundamentally different. Bluetooth Smart is not only low energy but, even more importantly, built on an entirely new development framework using Generic Attributes, or GATT. GATT is extremely flexible from a developer’s perspective and can be used for just about any scenario. As a result, Bluetooth Smart not only connects devices together in an ultra-power efficient way, but also directly connects devices to applications on your smartphone, PC or tablet. It’s the low energy and GATT features which are at the heart of the current IoT boom. They are also at the heart of Bluetooth, making Bluetooth Smart the perfect fit for the IoT.
Bluetooth technology is built upon a core specification and layered with different services. For more information on the technology and specification, go here. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is the caretaker and creator of the core specification and services. Our Working Groups ensure the specification and services work to the highest interoperability standards so consumers can know, with confidence, their Bluetooth products simply work.