Bluetooth is 20 years old

Feb 9

Bluetooth is 20 years old

In January 2018, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) celebrated its 20th anniversary. Founded in 1998, the group was founded with a handful of companies looking to replace voice and mobile data cables. Today, more than 33,000 companies are members.

Mark Powell, Executive Director of Bluetooth SIG, said in January 2018: “Since its inception, Bluetooth has continued to evolve and expand the world of innovative communications.”

Bluetooth Mesh is an important addition to the Bluetooth standard introduced in July 2017.

“The goal is to enable large-scale Bluetooth networking and multi-to-many communication for applications such as Connected Lighting and Home Automation,” said Mikko Savolainen, Marketing Manager at Silicon Labs.

“The Bluetooth Mesh standard will enable high-speed mesh networks and new indoor tracking and resource tracking applications when mesh networks are used to track assets or connected devices such as smartphones,” Savolainen suggests.

It is true that Bluetooth technology has played a key role in the consumer’s wireless revolution, whether to make phones, tablets or PCs accessible to the Internet; Changing the way people consume the media; They connect cars and drivers with the surrounding cities or help pave the way for the next industrial revolution and the increasing convergence of industry and information.

In 2018 alone, more than 4 billion Bluetooth devices will be delivered.

“The standard Bluetooth mesh will enable a high-speed mesh network and new applications.”

Mikko Savolainen

Bluetooth is synonymous with wireless technology, and today it is considered very much in terms of its impact on our lives.

The name “Bluetooth” would have been created by Jim Kardach of Intel and would be the nickname of King Harald Blåtand, a Danish who is known to bring together tribal groups in Denmark, Norway and Sweden to create a unique kingdom. 1000 years ago.

According to Mr. Kardach, Bluetooth was aimed at “unifying the PC and mobile industry with a short-range wireless connection.”

King Harald, who ruled from 958 to 986, would have had his nickname for his taste of blueberries; for others, this name comes from the fact that his teeth were dyed blue because he chewed on the remnants of his frozen enemies!

Regardless of the name’s history, the development of this technology, which dates back almost 80 years, is consistent with the Frequency Hidden Spectrum (FHSS) technology that forms the basis of the wireless technology protocol.

FHSS is accredited by a patent granted in 1942 entitled “Secret Communication System”. At the height of World War II, the FHSS was intended for use in a remote-controlled torpedo. It worked by allowing radio signals to pass through the radio spectrum, and therefore the signals could not be blocked.

The patent was taken in the name of Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler – better known at the time as the actress Hedy Lamarr.

The Bluetooth wireless technology used today was born in 1994, when Ericsson began developing an RF-based wireless alternative to the RS232 cables commonly used to connect devices.

“Ericsson was not alone in this investigation,” says Nick Hunn, a consultant and wireless evangelist who has been in the mobile industry for over 30 years and is closely associated with standardization organizations and industry organizations.

“Nokia and Ericsson both worked to develop wireless connectivity from the mobile phone to the PC, and Intel saw additional connectivity as a valuable way to boost sales of its computers and promote Ericsson technology.

800 million Bluetooth-enabled audio devices will be released in 2018
While the three companies had the idea of ​​connecting mobile phones and computers wirelessly, they all understood that there was a chance for universal interoperability – products from different companies could connect via a common RF protocol – the technology should be standardized.

After initial discussions in 1996, they agreed to meet with the three pioneers to standardize this short-haul radio technology and implement a GIS.

“IBM and Toshiba were invited to be part of the GIS to produce a specification within 18 months,” says Hunn.

Bluetooth was a temporary name back then. The alternatives were RadioWire and PAN (Personal Area Networking). PAN, the leader, was dropped because the Internet had already produced thousands of hits and the search for a full hallmark on RadioWire was not complete before the scheduled launch, retaining the Bluetooth name.

Despite the doubt, the name grew quickly.

GIS was founded in 1998
Bluetooth SIG was officially founded in 1998 by Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, Toshiba and IBM, and a year later, version 1 of the technology was introduced.

“It takes a few years from a specification that is used for applications that reach the market,” says Hunn. “People are slow to do all this.”

“In hindsight, Bluetooth was a remarkable combination of technology and world-class technical marketing,” said Glen Collinson, non-executive director of Blu Wireless Technology and co-founder of Bluetooth pioneer Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR). “It was probably one of the fastest developments in a global creative standard – from idea to commercial use – there never was one.”

Collison points to several factors; in particular technology and marketing support.

“Ericsson’s work in the early ’90s was critical, Ericsson was among the top three mobile handset manufacturers at the time and was determined to improve the usefulness of the handset.”

Engineers Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson, who were responsible for the development of Bluetooth, turned to FHSS technology and developed the foundation block technology.

The second major technological advance came from CSR, founded in 1998 by Phil O’Donovan, James Collier and Collinson.

“Some people might say,” Well, he would say it would not be him? “To be fair, however, CSR has taken a dominant position in the Bluetooth market,” says Collinson, “and I do not think much of the importance of the work we did at the time we were the first company integrates all the electronics of a modern one wireless system on a single chip.

“So far, everything was disconnected on the board, silicon and wireless were considered incompatible, and it was assumed that radio would interfere with silicon.

“We decided to abandon the existing design rules and put everything on a single chip – not only that, we could do it with CMOS ‘vanilla.”

“CSR has played a key role in the development of Bluetooth technology,” says Hunn, “but we must not forget Ericsson’s design.

The resulting Bluecore chip costs only $ 5 at a time when wireless chips cost more than $ 30.

“We’ve made significant economies of scale and performance, and in just a few years, CSR has achieved 60% market share, demonstrating how advanced that chip was.”

By 2022, 815 million intelligent Bluetooth devices will be delivered annually
While the technology was transformative, the other key element of Bluetooth’s success was “the extremely bright commercialization of Intel’s technology,” says Collinson. “This success can be traced back to two people: Simon Ellis and James Kardach.

“They went back to the basics of marketing and decided to turn Bluetooth into something that everyone would like and understand, and they wanted to generate demand through the supply chain, not just semiconductor companies, but consumers as well.

“They focused on interoperability, cost and short-distance communication, and the technology has evolved.

“I would describe these early years as lunatics, people who bought chips and put them in. We were able to track design wins with GIS information and see where Bluetooth was used.”

“Brilliant Marketing”

“The marketing campaign was brilliant, it was worth it,” says Hunn. “But I would suggest that Bluetooth did not start up as planned on the PC.” Wi-Fi appeared and Intel focused on pushing Wi-Fi into its laptops instead of Bluetooth. In general, a standard based on Wi-Fi Ethernet preferred while Bluetooth was closer to a GSM standard.

“What we saw was a conflict between the centered and cellular PC views of the world.”

However, within just a few years, the sector saw the volumes needed to enable the chip industry to invest and innovate. “We have seen a restructuring of the industry and it has become increasingly difficult for companies to assert themselves,” says Collinson. “CSR, Broadcom and TI have become” big threes “that drive new investments and innovation.”

“One of the main drivers, Hunn said, was to put Bluetooth on mobile phones, the result of research suggesting that US mobile operators were earning one-third of their revenue in 2000. A phone ban, for security reasons, saw the industry on Bluetooth as a hands-free solution focus.

“It turned out to be a real boost for Bluetooth and a good free exit card for operators.”

According to Martin Woolley, EMEA Technical Program Manager for Bluetooth GIS: “It is noteworthy that the technology is still there after 20 years.

“In 2000, when the technology first hit the market, around 800,000 Bluetooth-enabled devices were shipped each year, and today, 10 million devices are delivered daily.”

According to Woolley, the history of Bluetooth has reached a number of important milestones.

“When we started to study technology, it positioned itself as a cable replacement technology and, with increasing success, we saw increased demand and data volume growth in 2004.

“In 2000, about 800,000 Bluetooth devices were shipped, and today, 10 million devices are shipped every day.”
Martin Woolley

“The next important development was the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in 2010 with the formal introduction of Bluetooth v4.0, as it is very energy efficient, it can perform a private product function while communicating wirelessly.

“After all, the introduction of Bluetooth Mesh last year paved the way for future developments.”

Hunn acknowledges that the introduction of the BLE must be considered as an important step. “It has distracted the attention of the mobile phone and added the Bluetooth functionality to things that had nothing to do with the cell.” But it also highlights the Bluetooth v2.1 specification.

“It was important, not for what was included in the specification, but because it was the point where the interoperability of GIS was serious and the collaboration of the products was guaranteed – one of GIS’s greatest achievements.”

Where next?

Today, thousands of companies are developing products using Bluetooth.

“I’m curious afterwards,” says Hunn. “Bluetooth Mesh will make it easier to deploy the technology that is now coming into the home and could drive the trillions of potential applications.”

According to Woolley, the next version of the Bluetooth standard is aimed at reinventing Bluetooth audio, offering Bluetooth-tagged indoor positioning and navigation services, or using Bluetooth tags.

After nearly two decades of development and billions of Bluetooth product shipments, Bluetooth still seems to have a bright future.

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