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Bluetooth Glossary Terms Explained

Terms from the Bluetooth world explained)

Added to Paired Devices
This is a common confirmation message offered in a user interface to confirm a successful pairing action.

Device Discovery
Most Bluetooth wireless devices provide for searching for other similarly equipped devices. When you want to use two products together you normally would perform this operation to find the devices in range.

Device Name
Normally in a Preferences section of a device's user interface you can provide your products with a friendly device name such as "Mike's Computer". This device name will be made available to other devices during device discovery if Mike's Computer is discoverable.

Devices in Range
During device discovery a Bluetooth wireless radio will search for devices in range. While implementations may differ baseline Bluetooth equipped products normally support up to a 10m range. Considering building materials and ambient interference Bluetooth radio waves do pass through walls and floors.

Devices not found
This message may appear on the user interface of a device when device discovery does not find any devices in range. If you believe you have received this message in error, check the Discoverable state of the device you wish to connect with and retry. Additionally, while it is unlikely, radio interference may be disrupting a Bluetooth wireless connection. In this case first locate the devices near each other and retry. Lastly if this fails, determine if other radio products are using the same frequency and discontinue use of these devices. Examples of devices that also operate in the same frequencies as Bluetooth wireless include Microwave ovens, some cordless telephones, and certain wireless LAN products.

Discoverable (Make Discoverable)
For one device to initially "find" another Bluetooth wireless equipped device one product must be in this state while the other performs a device discovery. The methodology for putting your product in a discoverable state varies by device and by manufacturer. Most devices allow a user to configure the default state. For security reasons it is recommended you do not leave your devices in a discoverable state; however there are usage cases where this does make sense - a Bluetooth wireless capable printer in a shared area would be a good example of a device that should always be in discoverable state.

Encrypt Link
For those users and applications that require additional security, Bluetooth wireless technology offers encryption. Depending on your products implementation this could be a system wide option, unique to a single application or connection.

Just as your voice can go unheard by others due to other noises, so too can Bluetooth radios go unheard due to other radio interference. This issue is especially a concern as Bluetooth wireless technology uses an unlicensed band for transmissions. Fortunately the technology was designed explicitly to be both a good citizen in these frequencies by not producing unnecessary noise but also to be able to avoid other radio waves. Some common radio technologies which can affect Bluetooth wireless products include microwave ovens and some models of cordless phones.

Frequently when two Bluetooth wireless devices will regularly be used together it is best to pair the devices. This process saves the connection information (Device Name, passkey and other information) so automatic actions can occur between two devices. In some rare cases, for instance headsets and phones, for two devices to be used with one another they must be paired. While the implementation varies by device, each normally has mechanisms in their user interfaces to accept, and often to initiate, a paired connection. In most instances a passkey will be required to authenticate a connection.

When pairing devices it is strongly recommended to use passkeys to authenticate incoming connections. Also, in certain connection situations you may desire additional assurance that you are connecting to the device or person you expect. A passkey can normally be any combination of keys (letters or numbers). Do use caution as some devices do not map characters similarly. Passkeys are valid only for the connection and may be different for other devices or users.

A profile is complete definition of how a product manufacturer can implement Bluetooth wireless technology for a particular usage case. Profiles are the "services" offered by a device. In general, it is the responsibility of the product manufacturer to implement the profiles necessary for their target customers. For two devices to interoperate to complete a user task, both devices must implement a common profile. Today there are nearly twenty profiles including a wide diversity of usage cases.

Bluetooth wireless technology in its base implementation supports a range of 10 meters - the maximum distance a connection can be maintained. Some devices on the market have more powerful radios and as such will likely have greater range. Range is impacted by building materials and interference.

Service Discovery
While it is interesting to find devices through device discovery, additional information is available for certain user tasks to assist in determining device compatibility. Service discovery can be implanted either as a separate task while over devices and manufacturers combine Device and Service discovery reducing user intervention. In general there are common "tasks" that map to "services". For instance, a phone and headset would likely include the "Headset" service. These products when paired with Bluetooth wireless will combine to accomplish a user task.