[BITS] Munchkins with blue teeth?

Rohit Khare (rohit@fdr.ICS.uci.edu)
Thu, 21 May 1998 11:58:13 -0700

[No comment at this time. Shocker.

Well, one comment: we still need a router at every node; the software part of
the munchkin vision; this is the HW part. Well, another: async vlsi can
actually deliver the *processor* we need alongside this in the same power
budget. --RK]

From: Andys@Outlook.com By Andy Seybold
Working Title: The Convergence Of Communications And Computing

Imagine that you are in a meeting with your notebook computer open in fro=
nt of you. Suddenly, the cursor begins to blink and a new e-mail message =
is displayed on the screen. Your computer isn=92t plugged into anything, =
your cellular phone is in your briefcase under the table, but you are rec=
eiving e-mail over the wireless network. How is this possible?

Your notebook is communicating with your cell phone, which in turn is com=
municating with the wireless network through a revolutionary new radio ch=
ip developed through a collaboration of the computing and communications =
industriescode name =93Bluetooth.=94

Setting the Stage

Over the past ten years, the communications and computer industries have =
developed new technology products that enable mobile workers to be more p=

The communications industry has given us pagers that can receive and disp=
lay text messages, mobile phones that weigh only a few ounces, and mobile=
phone coverage virtually everywhere we go, while the computer industry h=
as provided portable computers that have evolved from luggables to palmto=
ps. As a result, our work force is able to spend more working hours in th=
e field.=20
During this same time, first facsimile, and now electronic mail have take=
n us beyond voice communications. Today=92s mobile workers need the abili=
ty to access their own e-mail, connect to their corporate information res=
ources, and perhaps to send and receive faxes.

Thus the next logical step was for the computing and communications indus=
tries to work together to provide wireless access to computing devices. F=
or five or six years, the industries have been doing just thatworking tog=
ether toward providing customers with the same level of access to their c=
omputing data as they have to people via their mobile phones.

Enter Digital

All of the new wireless voice systems being implemented today are based o=
n digital technologies, as are data-only networks. Meanwhile, most analog=
wireless networks are being upgraded to digital. Digital networks are be=
tter suited to data, and most are capable of providing for both voice and=
data. Even so, it is still necessary to purchase a wireless network adap=
ter or modem as well as proprietary cables and connectors for the compute=
r in order to use these networks for wireless data.

Problems Remain

Even with today=92s renewed interest, and technical advances made by both=
industries, implementing wireless data remains a complex and expensive p=
roposition. Because there are so many wide-area networks that can be used=
for wireless data, and there are so many digital standards, computer ven=
dors have been frustrated in their efforts to build wireless communicatio=
ns solutions into their mobile computers.

As a result, communications companies have had to find ways to enable the=
ir communications devices in the computing world.

Eventually, several companies from both industries decided that they need=
ed to work together to find a common solution. They knew that there was a=
demand to merge mobile computing with mobile communications, and they un=
derstood the problems. They believed that working together they could fin=
d a solution.

The Result

The result of this collaboration is a technology code-named =93Bluetooth.=
=94 It addresses all of the issues raised above, and it provides a common=
solution for both industries. The model for Bluetooth is simple, and the=
re is genius in its simplicity.=20

Rather than trying to design computers so they will work with any wireles=
s interface card or modem on any frequency, using any one of a number of =
digital technologies, why not build a single, common radio into every mob=
ile computer?

The computer and radio combination could then be optimized to minimize in=
terferencea task made easier for computer engineers with only one radio. =
With a single-radio solution, computer vendors are no longer faced with h=
aving to make a network choice or supporting multiple networks.

The Bluetooth communications device is a small, low-powered radio in a ch=
ip that will =93talk=94 to other Bluetooth-enabled products, eliminating =
the need for cables or infrared beams to connect portable computers, cell=
ular phones, printers, fax machines, etc. It will be possible to connect =
enabled devices on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis.

Since the chip supports both voice and data communications, applications =
will range from something as simple as replacing the cable between a mobi=
le computer and cellular phone, to more complex connections involving mul=
tiple computers, and extending into hands-free voice communications for w=
ireless phones in vehicles.

A Win for the Computer Industry

Bluetooth appears to be a win for the computer industry. Most computer ma=
nufacturers have wanted to enable wireless communications but have been u=
nable to determine which wide-area networks to support. The Bluetooth sol=
ution eliminates the need for a wide-area network decision. This can be l=
eft to the makers of phones and modems and other wide-area network device=
s. As an added bonus, the radio, which is inexpensive to build in, can be=
used to connect any two or more devices that are equipped with the radio=

Computer manufacturers have known for some time that wireless communicati=
ons will be important for mobile computers. The Bluetooth solution provid=
es a short-range ad hoc network, enabling users to send and receive e-mai=
l without a phone and synchronize their calendar and phone book automatic=
ally whenever the two devices detect each other=92s presence.

The Communications Industry

Bluetooth also appears to be a win-win for the communications industry. C=
ommunications companies will no longer have to build external cables and =
PC Cards to enable their wireless phones and network cards to interface t=
o computers. A Bluetooth module built into the phone or wireless network =
connection points will enable it to send and receive information to and f=
rom any computer so equipped.=20

Since Bluetooth is capable of short-range voice communications as well, i=
t will also be used as a hands-free voice interface for cellular phones, =
a speaker-phone link, and a link between the phone and other electronics =
in an automobile. Bluetooth technology enables multiple devices to commun=
icate with each other using a common set of standards when they are withi=
n range.

Built-In Devices

The =93compelling=94 reasons for incorporating Bluetooth are to wirelessl=
y connect mobile computers to cellular phones, and to establish small wor=
kgroups quickly and easily. As the number of Bluetooth-equipped devices g=
rows, so will their uses. Printers, fax machines, LANs, and more will be =
able to communicate with each other.=20

On the communications side, cellular phones, two-way pagers, wireless dat=
a-only terminals, and most other two-way wireless-capable devices will be=
Bluetooth-equipped. Bluetooth will provide the =93glue=94 for the merger=
of wireless and computers. And it provides some great new voice options =
as well.

Add-In and Add-On

While I expect to see many new computer products that include radio modul=
es to enter the marketplace, I also expect to see many computer companies=
build add-in and add-on modules to enable existing wireless and computin=
g combinations. Soon after such products come to market, I expect to see =
printer and network adapters as well as adapters for wireless phones and =
mobile computers already on the market.=20

Bluetooth is a universal solution to what has been a perplexing connectiv=
ity problem, and I expect to see wide adoption of this technology. It is =
being packaged for the OEM as a certified module at a low costI think tha=
t it is a =93no-brainer=94 when it comes to deciding whether to build the=
technology into new products.

A Look at Bluetooth

The Bluetooth wireless technology uses one of the available unlicensed, y=
et virtually worldwide radio bands2.4 GHzand it can support both voice an=
d data. Everything needed to be Bluetooth-capable will be contained in a =
module that will cost between $15 and $20 at first. Driven by volume, the=
cost should drop to about $5 by 2001.

The low-power radio module can and will be built into mobile computers, m=
obile phones, printers, fax machines, and network connection points. Whil=
e its primary focus is to be the wireless connection between mobile compu=
ters and/or between computers and wireless network devices such as cellul=
ar phones, Bluetooth supports data speeds of up to 721 Kbps (including a =
56 Kbps back channel) as well as three voice channels.=20

Specs and Design

The Bluetooth design is a collaborative effort between communications and=
computing companies. Ericsson, Bluetooth=92s initial developer, understo=
od that it needed a partner on the computer side and approached Intel wit=
h the idea. Intel quickly grasped the importance of the concept and has b=
een instrumental in driving the concept to reality. The initial group wor=
king on Bluetooth also includes Nokia, IBM, Toshiba, Motorola, and Palm (=
3Com). Because input from both industries went into the design, Bluetooth=
will provide flexibility that reaches beyond simply being a replacement =
for wire.=20

Bluetooth has been designed to operate in a multi-user environment. Devic=
es can be enabled to communicate with each other by the computer or commu=
nications device end user. Up to eight users or devices can make up a pic=
onet, and ten piconets can co-exist in the same coverage range. Since eac=
h link is encoded and protected against both eavesdropping and interferen=
ce, Bluetooth can be considered a secure short-range wireless network.

The balance of the specifications are as follows:

Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz (unlicensed ISM Band)=20
Transmitter Power: 1 milliWatt (0 dBm)=20
Technology: Spread Spectrum=20
Hybrid Direct sequence and frequency hopping=20
Maximum Voice Channels: 3 per piconet=20
Maximum Data Channels: 7 per piconet=20
Data speed: 721 Kbps per piconet=20
Expected System Range: 10 meters (40 feet)=20
Number of Devices Supported: 8 per piconet, 10 piconets in coverage area1=
Security: Yes, link layer=20
Power Requirement: 2.7 volts=20
Power Consumption: 30 uA sleep, 60 uA hold, 300 uA standby=20
8-30 mA transmitting=20
Module size: 0.5 square inches=20
Interference: Bluetooth minimizes potential interference by employing fas=
t frequency hopping1600 times a second.

1Graceful degradation of the symbol rate for more than 10 piconets in a g=
iven coverage area.


I am really excited about this technology and what it will mean to mobile=
computing and communications. To me, Bluetooth represents a no-brainer c=
oncept at a reasonable price. I believe that any computer vendor building=
mobile devices should embrace this concept and these productsimmediately=
if not sooner!=20

The same goes for mobile phone, wireless modem, and network adapter vendo=
rs. While it might take a while for this module to show up in smaller pho=
nes, most can certainly accommodate the module when it comes to size and =
current drain. As the number of Bluetooth devices on the market increases=
, prices for the module will continue to come down to a point where it is=
comparable to building in IrDA-compliant infrared, which is a common pra=
ctice today.

I also believe that printer, fax, and other accessory device vendors will=
be quick to hop on the Bluetooth bandwagon. Imagine being able to print =
without cables or aiming an infrared beam. Imagine walking into your offi=
ce and putting your briefcase down and having the notebook computer insid=
e it automatically sense that it is in range of your desktop and initiate=
the exchange of data to update both systems.

Of course, the primary advantage to this system is that computer vendors =
can build it in. They don=92t have to worry about choosing a wide-area ne=
twork to support, or stocking an assortment of modules for several networ=
ks. And their engineers need only minimize interference for one radio on =
one frequency band! Further, enabling their computers for wireless data c=
ommunications will not require a PC Card slot or option bay cavitythese w=
ill remain available for other uses.

Bluetooth has been designed to solve a number of connectivity problems ex=
perienced by mobile workers and consumers. And it does so in a simple, ne=
at package that is inexpensivethe OEM only pays for the cost of the modul=
e. The system is available royalty and license free.=20

Bluetooth was well conceived, and I believe that it will be well received=
. I will certainly encourage all of my clients to make Bluetooth a part o=
f their strategy as they move forward. My only disappointment is that I h=
ave to wait until mid-1999 before I can have a Bluetooth-enabled set of m=
obile computing and communications devices.=20

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