If you’ve ever had to save face after trying to start a conversation with someone who’s on Bluetooth — or have been embarrassed when people think you’re talking to yourself — you can blame a former King of Denmark.
King Harald “Bluetooth” Blatand, whose reign lasted from 958-986, is famous for bringing different factions together, what are now Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Similarly, Bluetooth technology securely unites devices from different manufacturers with different purposes — like an Apple MacBook and a Microsoft mouse — into a personal network.
Although the product’s name dates back more than a thousand years, that same radio technology was used in the military in the 1940s. But the piece of hardware that contains the actual Bluetooth radio along with connecting software wasn’t invented until 1994 by engineers at Ericsson, a Sweden-based company. The engineers were investigating how feasible a radio interface with low cost and power, and used to connect different technologies, would be.
Ericsson soon realized a team-up between companies was necessary for a universal bridge, and the Special Interest Group formed in 1998. SIG originally comprised Ericsson, Intel, IBM, Toshiba and Nokia Mobile Phones, who worked as one to connect through Bluetooth technology, and the first Bluetooth specification was released one year later.
Bluetooth’s creation was intended to replace wires between everyday items, such as a mouse and a keyboard, but after years of work, it can do much more — and it can connect up to seven devices. It can even create new connections that weren’t possible with wires, and it’s now possible to connect phones to cars and printers. While previous versions of the technology connect devices within a 10 meter ranges, more recent iterations reach 100 meters.
The technology uses radio waves to send close-range information, unlike phones, television and radio, which broadcast over a larger distance. During races, the Andretti Racing team has used Bluetooth devices to communicate. But, due to microwave radio waves, it is said that excessive Bluetooth usage can pose a health risk.
Bluetooth technology has the capability to let a person monitor pulse, speed and steps while jogging, walking or running. More than 13,000 companies are working on innovative products, which will make it easier to multitask and let our devices work in tandem.
Though the technology has evolved, its logo is a nod to its namesake from more than 1,000 years ago — it bears close resemblance to Danish rules H and B for King Harald “Bluetooth” Blatand.