In these modern times, the world has more or less bridged all distances when it comes to communication; we’ve adopted many technologies to help us stay in contact with our friends and family. We have managed to remove cables from our lives with simple technologies, one of the most popular being Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is a common wireless technology found in many of the devices we use every day. Bluetooth is used to connect mice, keyboards, and other peripherals to our computers. Bluetooth is even used to connect our phones to other devices like screens and even our cars to catch up on the latest podcasts during our morning commutes.

At this point, a vast majority of the world uses wireless communication even without realizing it. Our Radios and TVs are subtle examples as they receive media that has been beamed in radio waves hundreds or even thousands of km/miles through the air. Our mobile and cordless phones do the same thing when they carry calls from a handset to a base station somewhere in your home. Even now, as you use the internet, your computer or phone sends and receives a steady stream of Internet data to and from a router that’s probably connected directly to the Net wirelessly. 

Bluetooth is a radio-wave technology mainly designed to communicate over short distances less than about 10m or 30ft. Bluetooth is used to import photos from a digital camera to a PC or hook up a wireless mouse to a laptop in a typical situation. Bluetooth can also be used typically to link a hands-free headset to your cellphone, so you can talk and drive safely at the same time, and so on. These devices contain built-in radio antennas, i.e., transmitters and receivers, so they can simultaneously send and receive wireless signals to other Bluetooth gadgets. In Bluetooth devices, the transmitter’s power governs the range over which a Bluetooth device can operate. The transmitters are grouped into three basic tiers; class 1 is the most powerful and can operate up to 100m. Class 2 transmitters, also the most widespread, can operate up to 10m, and class 3 are the least powerful and don’t go much beyond 1m. 

How does Bluetooth work?

Bluetooth works by sending radio waves in a band of 79 different frequencies. These frequencies or channels are centered on 2.45 GHz, set apart from radio, television, and cellphones, and dedicated for use by industrial, scientific, and medical gadgets. Bluetooth transmitters aren’t powerful enough to distort other signals, so you don’t have to worry about interfering with someone’s life-support machine. This low power attribute of Bluetooth is one of the plus sides of the technology as they use virtually no power and, because they don’t travel far, are theoretically more secure than wireless networks that operate over longer ranges, such as Wi-Fi.

Bluetooth devices are designed to comment once in range of each other automatically. Up to 8 Bluetooth devices can be connected at once. They communicate through the channels, and if one channel is full, they skip on to the next. This skipping technique is known as spread-spectrum frequency hopping. To avoid interfering with other electrical appliances and increase security, paired Bluetooth devices constantly shift the frequency they’re using.

When two Bluetooth devices are paired or sharing data, they create a small computer network known as a piconet; devices can join and leave a piconet at any point as long as one device, the master, remains. The master device acts as the network’s overall controller, while the others, called slaves, obey its instructions. Piconets can fuse to share more information in what is known as a scatternet.

Is Bluetooth secure?

Everyone knows that wireless communication is always the less secure option. With a wired connection, there’s a direct link between the devices, and the only way to intercept wired data transfer is to tap into one of the cables directly. This would be pretty much impossible for modern-day hackers as most organizations protect their cables like gold. On the other hand, wireless data can easily be intercepted because it zaps back and forth through the open air. All a hacker has to do is be in the range of the transmitter, and they’ll be able to pick up their signals. Luckily, wireless networks use encryption to get around this major security issue.

Bluetooth is also encrypted and has quite a few security features. With Bluetooth, you can bar some devices to talk only to certain other, trusted devices. An example of this would be allowing your cellphone to be operated only by your Bluetooth hands-free headset and no-one else’s. This security exists at a device level. There are also other restrictions you can impose on your devices. Criminal minds always try to chew through defenses. They may even bypass Bluetooth in some situations by blue bugging; people taking over your Bluetooth device without your knowledge, bluejacking; where people send messages to other people’s devices, often for advertising purposes bluesnarfing; downloading information from someone else’s device using a Bluetooth connection. These types of attacks should make you more cautious about using Bluetooth devices in public places. However, most Bluetooth technologies today hardly ever transfer secure information.

Is Bluetooth better or worse than Wi-Fi?

This is a common question because most people get confused by Bluetooth and Wi-Fi because they seem to do similar things. This isn’t true because Bluetooth and Wifi connections are largely different from each other. The thing is that Bluetooth is mainly used for linking computers and electronic devices in an ad-hoc way over very short distances, often for only brief or occasional communication using relatively small amounts of data. It’s relatively secure, uses little power, and connects automatically. On the other hand, WiFi connections are designed to send and receive much larger amounts of data between computers and the Internet, often over much greater distances. Wifi networks can implement more deliberate security, and it generally uses much higher power. These two technologies aren’t necessarily rivals; they complement each other. Wifi networks are overkill for simple headphones, and a Bluetooth connection isn’t enough to transfer large amounts of data. They work hand in hand to make your life easier.

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