If you've recently bought a mobile phone or laptop, you will probably have come across the term "Bluetooth". You may even have heard your school's resident technophiles raving about it. So you're Bluetooth compatible, but what exactly does it mean?
Bluetooth is an industry standard protocol* that allows electronic devices to communicate with each other wirelessly (without being physically attached).
This communication can either be in the form of a voice channel (connecting mobile phones and headsets) or a data channel (linking a handheld computer to a desktop PC or to a mobile phone).
It can be a tricky task to get two different electronic devices to talk, so Bluetooth was created to ease this situation.
When a device claims it is Bluetooth compatible, it has a very small radio module built into it. This module uses a short-range radio link that will normally work only over distances of up to around nine metres.
For a user, the important things about Bluetooth are: * It's wireless, so you don't have to worry where all the cables will go;
* It's inexpensive;
* You don't have to think about it.
Bluetooth doesn't require you to do anything special to make it work.
Simply launch your Bluetooth program and it will scan for all other Bluetooth devices within its range.
Although devices will automatically find each other, no information can be transferred until the target device has accepted communication (in the form of a shared pass code), removing any security fears.
As for classroom uses, one teacher recommends Bluetooth as the ideal way to link your PC to a digital projector in class without the hassle of wires, allowing you to operate the projector without leaving your desk.
Also, if you're using a Bluetooth mouse, you can pass it round the class to allow students to highlight things on the screen or to be in control of demonstrating their own work.
In one school, students use handheld computers with Bluetooth in class, enabling them to send work to each other and directly to the teacher; among other things this, encourages the exchange of ideas.
In short, Bluetooth is a cheap and reliable technology that allows you to fully exploit digital interactivity in the classroom.
One final thing... the name Bluetooth comes from Harald Bluetooth who was King of Denmark in the late 900s and apparently is a tribute to the importance of Scandinavian countries in the communications industry.
* Protocol: a language of commands and responses that mean all the parties in an electronic communication understand each other.