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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK
Bluetooth products roll out
Harald Bluetooth
King Harald Bluetooth with laptop and mobile phone
By BBC News Online internet reporter
Mark Ward in Monte Carlo

The metres of cables you need to connect up your favourite gadgets could become a distant memory if a technology named after a Viking takes off.

On Tuesday, products that use the technology start being showcased as 2,000 delegates attend the Bluetooth Congress in Monte Carlo.

Any device, from a mobile phone to a computer to a refrigerator fitted with a Bluetooth transceiver will be able to swap data effortlessly with other similarly equipped devices.

Gone will be the need to find the right cable, the right adapter and the right software to move data from one device to another.

Instead, Bluetooth will let you shuffle data via wireless links as long as the devices are within 10 metres of each other.

Wireless wonder

Bluetooth development began six years ago and now nearly 2,000 companies are working on products and services to exploit the low-power radio technology.

It uses the 2.4 GHz frequency which in most countries is reserved for industrial, scientific and medical uses.

In most countries, anyone can use this frequency without a licence. However, in Spain and France, use of this frequency is restricted but negotiations are continuing to remove these limitations.

Other applications, such as wireless office networks, microwave ovens and remote controls for garage doors, currently use this spectrum.

The technology avoids interfering with these other uses by chopping data into small packages and sending it over a range of frequencies.

Bluetooth devices hop 1,600 times per second over 79 different channels.

Technology trials

At the start of June, Ericsson unveiled the first mobile phones to use Bluetooth technology. Plug-in cards for PCs are expected to follow later this year.

As well as doing away with lots of cables the technology could do away with the need for more than one phone.

Instead of having a mobile on the move, a landline at home and a modem for your computer a Bluetooth enabled phone could do all three jobs.

More exotic uses are on the cards.

In Sweden, a trial is under way that turns a mobile phone into a train ticket.

The trial lets those booking a ticket via the internet store the details on their mobile phone.

When they take their seat in the train carriage a Bluetooth server interrogates the phone to find out if the commuter has the right ticket and is in the right seat.

Viking vision

The technology is named after King Harald Bluetooth who, unlike most other Vikings, preferred talking to fighting.

His diplomatic reign unified the nations of Denmark and Norway, which he then ruled from 940-981.

He got his name Bluetooth because he liked blueberries so much that they stained his teeth.

Even the trademark for the group reflects these origins. It is made up of the two runic characters "H" and "B".

It also reflects the Scandinavian origins of two of the founding companies, Ericsson and Nokia.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | Business
Ericsson unveils Bluetooth
30 May 00 | Business
Shifting Europe's mobile landscape
23 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's web phone revolution
18 May 00 | Business Basics
The Telecom Revolution
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