Bluetooth Still An ‘Unusually Painful’ Technology


In the two decades since Bluetooth was first included in products available to the general public, Bluetooth has become so widespread that an entire generation of consumers may not be able to remember a time without it says CNN.

  • Bluetooth is still a headache for some.
  • The proximity of the connection remains one main concern.


5 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices will ship to consumers this year estimated ABI Research. Everything these days has an installed Bluetooth server. It could be from smartphones to refrigerators, allowing a growing number of products to connect to each other seamlessly — sometimes.


Despite all the advantages, the technology is still prone to headaches. This involves, connecting two new devices, or simply being too far out of range to connect. “I have a very love-hate relationship with Bluetooth,” said Chris Harrison, a professor of Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Melon University. “Because when it works, it’s amazing, and when it doesn’t, you want to rip your hair out. The promise was to make it as seamless and easy as possible,” he said. Bluetooth never quite got there, unfortunately.”


Bluetooth is said to borrow its name from a ninth-century Scandinavian king, Harald “Blue tooth” Gormsson, who was known for his blueish-grey dead tooth. Early programmers adopted “Bluetooth” as just a code name for their wireless tech that connects local devices.

The technology was differentiated from Wi-Fi by being “inherently short-range,” Harrison said. It’s still the case that a Bluetooth connection can only cover very short distances. Bluetooth signals travel over unlicensed airwaves, which are effectively open to the public for anyone to use. This is opposed to privatized airwaves that are controlled by companies like AT&T or Verizon. 

Connection Proximity

Bluetooth must share and compete with a slew of other products using unlicensed spectrum bands, such as baby monitors, TV remotes, and more. This may generate interference that can disrupt your Bluetooth’s effectiveness. If you set up a Bluetooth speaker in your New York apartment building, for example, you wouldn’t want just anyone within a 50-fee radius to be able to connect to it.  “Sometimes the device will start up automatically and be in this,” he added. “Sometimes you have to click some kind of alien sequence to get the device into this particular mode.”’


More than that, multiple US government agencies have advised consumers that using Bluetooth risks.  But businesses and consumers continue to embrace Bluetooth. Apple ditched traditional headphone ports and introduced Bluetooth-enabled wireless, AirPods. Some diehard audiophiles, the sort of people “who complain about Spotify not being high-quality enough,” as Harrison puts it, also refuse to embrace the world of Bluetooth headphones for sound quality reasons.

Despite its flaws, Harrison doesn’t see demand for Bluetooth dying down and admits he himself uses it seamlessly — some “70% of the time.”

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Source: CNN


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