Back in ’94, Bluetooth was invented and standardized to be a wireless cable replacement technology. After a long battle with adoption and interoperability, Bluetooth is now standard issue in most smartphones, road-ready laptops, and a slew of other devices that connect to them wirelessly. Originally created to replace RS-232 serial cable, Bluetooth is now built into all manners of electronics, over 10,000 product lines in total.
The mobile phone, automotive, computing, and consumer electronic industries have come together to make technology easier and better for everyone. When it was first being pitched, marketers spoke of dreams of the Personal Area Network or PAN. The promises of the PAN was more than a little science-fictiony, with fantasies of doors opening like Star Trek and house keys being obsolete.
This is how the Personal Area Network is shaping up for BlackBerry users five years after RIM started supporting Bluetooth.
What better place to be wireless and connected than in your car? The popularity of talking on the phone while driving has caused many regions to adopt hands-free laws. While a few cars have Bluetooth either built-in or as an option, the BlackBerry Visor Mount VM-605 is built to work with the BlackBerry and can also serve music to your car stereo. You can also use any compatible Bluetooth-enabled headset if you don’t like talking on a speakerphone.
Bluetooth gaming remote Zeemote is a small Bluetooth-enabled mobile peripheral with several buttons and an analog thumbstick. If you’re an avid BlackBerry gamer, the keypad begins to be the weakest link when input speed is of the essence. The Zeemote gives you the speed and precision needed to fully enjoy your BlackBerry games.
One of my favorite implementations of Bluetooth on the BlackBerry is the BlackBerry Remote Stereo Gateway. With a simple flick of the menu you can serve your devices’ music to any stereo with an auxiliary input. We have 2 of these going at BlackBerryCool HQ in separate rooms, and it’s both rocking and convenient: a rare combination.
There are lots of High-end photo frames that support Bluetooth. I find it hard to imagine having a lifestyle in which I need photos on my digital photo frame right this instant, but I’m sure there are those who do.
RIM made a device called Presenter that loads Powerpoint presentations from your device using Bluetooth, and outputs them to either sVideo or VGA. Nifty if you’ve forgotten about the existence of laptops, or do a lot of presentations that don’t need to load very quickly and don’t have any videos in them.
Syncing with BlackBerry Desktop Manager is still mostly done with a USB cable. If you want to set up Bluetooth for your Desktop Manager on your PC, try these helpful guides for Windows Vista and Windows XP. Giancarlo did a great roundup of Mac sync solutions for BlackBerry that is definitely worth reading.
I adore using Bluetooth to get pictures and documents on to my PC. After an initial pairing, browsing files on the BlackBerry then selecting “send using Bluetooth” takes all of ten seconds. It’s a huge improvement considering it takes about a minute to do all that with a USB cable.
Using Bluetooth to link your laptop with your smartphone to access the Internet has been a feature power users have employed for years. It takes some tinkering to get your laptop tether-ready for free. There are however, software options to make the process hassle-free.
External foldout keyboards have been around since the birth of the PDA, allowing for rapid text-entry for mobile devices. I enjoy seeing creative implementations of input devices for mobile like the laser-projected keyboard, but will probably never use them because the BlackBerry keypad is quick, as well as not embarrassing for public use.
Using your BlackBerry to control your PC is a cool idea, especially if you’ve got a PC running your home entertainment, or if you want to control a presentation. The bluCTRL app is donationware and allows you to use your BlackBerry keypad and trackpad as your PC’s keyboard and mouse.
The future of Bluetooth
The future implementations of Bluetooth revolve around a couple of new technologies. The Bluetooth 3.0 + HS specification uses Bluetooth’s pairing-based permissions system to easily set up connections over faster protocols like WiFi, enabling easy connections for high-bandwidth transfers. The Bluetooth 4.0 (Ble or Bluetooth low energy) specification will mean very small, low-powered devices for products whose battery you don’t need to change for a year. Implementations include (normal-sized) wristwatches with integrated smartphone features, loads of medical devices, smart running shoes, home automation, and more. Bluetooth low energy achieves remarkable battery life with its “always off” design philosophy, operating only when needed.
Bluetooth’s future is so bright I’ve gotta wear shades.
Comments? What are your favorite Bluetooth-enabled apps for the BlackBerry?