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What is Internal Bluetooth®?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

Internal Bluetooth® is the built-in version of a wireless protocol used to connect small devices over short distances. Originally the technology was conceived of as an alternative to cabled devices, allowing things like cell phones, printers, scanners, and other peripherals to communicate with computers or handheld devices seamlessly. Using a technology known as frequency-hopping spread spectrum, internal Bluetooth® devices are able to operate near each other without interfering with one another.

A wide range of technological applications have been developed for internal Bluetooth®, and it has started to become a ubiquitous technology. One of the most commonly-seen uses of internal Bluetooth® is in cell phones. In this context, an internal Bluetooth® device allows the cell phone to communicate with another phone, a computer, or a peripheral device like a keyboard or headset. Bluetooth® headsets have become pervasive, allowing a hands-free alternative for talking on the phone while driving or walking, without an inconvenient dangling cord. For people who use their smart phones to write emails or take notes, Bluetooth®-enabled keyboards are also welcome additions, allowing for a more natural typing experience without having to drag along a laptop or notebook computer.

Many smartphones include internal Bluetooth®.
Many smartphones include internal Bluetooth®.

Desktop and laptop computers now also integrate internal Bluetooth® as a way to connect a range of peripheral devices. This has led to a realization of the so-called cable-free office, in which devices all communicate wirelessly, allowing for a high level of mobility that is especially desirable when dealing with laptop computers. Printers, keyboards, mice, and scanners are the most obvious choices for internal Bluetooth® devices, freeing up valuable desk space.

Nintendo Wii game consoles may include internal Bluetooth.
Nintendo Wii game consoles may include internal Bluetooth.

Internal Bluetooth® is seen in many situations where traditionally infrared communication would have been used. At about the same price point, or even cheaper, Bluetooth® is able to overcome many of the shortcomings of infrared technology. Because it is not a light-based technology, Bluetooth® doesn’t require line of sight, which means devices can’t easily be disrupted simply by moving them to the wrong location. This was a major gripe among early adopters of wireless keyboard and mouse technology, and in many ways prevented a widespread adoption. With the advent of Bluetooth®, however, the problem has been overcome entirely, and the market has responded with a surge of wireless input devices.

This technology isn’t used only for traditional computers and cell phones, either. Game consoles, such as the Sony PlayStation 3® and the Nintendo Wii®, have begun to use internal Bluetooth® in their input devices, allowing users a fuller freedom of movement. GPS receivers, bar code scanners, and traffic control systems have also switched to Bluetooth®, reducing costs and increasing ease of use by removing bulky cables.

The term internal Bluetooth® is used to differentiate Bluetooth® receivers that are built in to a system and those that are not. These days, virtually all devices that have Bluetooth® have internal Bluetooth®, but external or peripheral Bluetooth® is still sometimes seen. Most commonly external Bluetooth® takes the form of a small USB dongle that attaches to the USB port on a computer and adds Bluetooth® functionality to the device.

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    • Many smartphones include internal Bluetooth®.
      By: N-Media-Images
      Many smartphones include internal Bluetooth®.
    • Nintendo Wii game consoles may include internal Bluetooth.
      By: Mark Ordonez
      Nintendo Wii game consoles may include internal Bluetooth.