Bluetooth originated in Sweden back in 1989 as a ‘short link’ radio technology to facilitate wireless headsets. The word evolved from the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann, the nickname of the 10th Century King Harald ‘Bluetooth’ Gormsson who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom and introduced Christianity.
A lot has changed since 1989, and we now find Bluetooth has become well established in everyday life in a myriad of applications that we take for granted.
Consumer experience creating expectations
For instance, many modern cars now come with Bluetooth connectivity to connect your mobile phone to your entertainment system, for making and receiving hands-free phones calls and playing music. With wireless portable speakers, we can connect phones, tablets and PCs to play music and movie audio tracks. Headphones and earbuds are increasingly becoming wireless for phone calls and entertainment. Popular fitness devices connect to phones or PCs wirelessly.
In short, there are a myriad of applications where Bluetooth connects things wirelessly—a model that, as consumers, we just expect to work perfectly.
History of Bluetooth performance improvements
One of the reasons for the increased use of Bluetooth is ever-improving performance as each new version is released:
- Bluetooth 1.0 (1999) had many issues and did not gain the initial public acceptance that had been hoped for
- Bluetooth 1.1 and 1.2 (2003) resolved many of the problems of stability, speed, range and ease of use, resulting in more devices starting to adopt the standard
- With Bluetooth 2.0 (2004), data transfer speeds further improved while reducing power consumption and increasing range
- Bluetooth 3.0 (2009) made big steps forward in speed, range and power
- Bluetooth 4.0 (2010), also known as Bluetooth Smart, came out with a completely new set of protocols facilitating very low power applications that could run from a coin cell battery
- Bluetooth 4.1 (2013) and 4.2 (2014) were software enhancements that improved consumer usability and embraced the emerging Internet of Things (IoT)
- The Bluetooth 5 standard was unveiled in late 2016 with a focus on the emerging IoT technologies, and products expected during 2017
The consumerization of business communications expectations
So, if Bluetooth is now a fully accepted standard for consumers, what about business users?
With the consumerization of IT, technologies that consumers adopt typically soon make their way into the workplace.
Just think of smartphone apps, tablets, online data storage, webmail, social media and social networking. Bluetooth can now be added to this list—an example being the adoption of hands-free mobile phone calls for people who are driving.
As people have come to expect mobile devices to seamlessly pair with different technology in their lives, business communications companies have had to respond by bringing that same kind of integration to the office environment. The newest frontier for Bluetooth pairing? The humble desk phone.
Turning concept into reality
Mitel has adopted the Bluetooth 4.1 standard for the new MiVoice 6900 series of business phones, which are already causing a stir. While focus groups love the fact that the built-in USB socket can act as a charging point for mobile devices (as well as connecting peripherals), some of the most useful advances are in the use of the Bluetooth 4.1 standard, making the 6900 series phones the most advanced business handsets on the market.
- Mobile-desk phone pairing
- Vastly improved sound quality
- Contact synching
- Seamless handoff
- Headset battery life improvements
- Improved headset reach