Bluetooth spec for wireless links debuts

The first official specification for Bluetooth, a wireless technology for providing high-speed connections between mobile computers, telephones and other networked devices, has been released by companies backing the effort.

The completed specification paves the way for manufacturers to complete the design of their Bluetooth products and prepare them for interoperability tests. The first devices to support the technology are expected to come to market next year.

The wireless technology was developed by Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia and Toshiba, who together launched the Bluetooth Special Interest Group in May 1998. The group's membership has since swelled to about 800 companies worldwide.

In theory, the technology will support voice, video and data transmission at up to 1Mbps, although real-world connection speeds are likely to be closer to 725Kbps, an IBM spokesman said. Bluetooth works at distances of up to about 30 feet, or 10 metres, and is designed primarily for use in the home and the office.

Besides offering wireless connectivity between mobile phones, computers, headsets and other devices, Bluetooth is also expected to provide wireless Internet access via a local area network. The technology can also be used for synchronising data between computing devices, officials involved in the effort have said.

Market research firm Dataquest Inc. has predicted that by 2002, 79 per cent of digital handsets and more than 200 million PCs will incorporate the technology.

The Bluetooth 1.0 specification consists of two documents: the foundation core, which provides design specifications, and the foundation profile, which provides interoperability guidelines.

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