Saturday, October 20, 2007

What is your favorite Bluetooth application?


I've always been interested to know this blog readers' most favorite Bluetooth application, the one that you use again and again every day. Be it wireless headset or handsfree, dial-up networking, PAN, or else. Please cast your vote on the accompanying poll. Also drop your comment here.

Thank you for your participation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wibree finally merges with Bluetooth

After much buzz, hype, and many objections following a Wibree launch late last year, what happened to the Wibree camp? At the end, Nokia as its developer realized the very similarity of Wibree with the short range Bluetooth. Now, Wibree spec is going to be integrated into an "ultra low power" Bluetooth Specification.

With Wibree in its fold, Bluetooth is geared toward expanding its presense to new areas, mainly sport and healthcare. Expect this integration in the likes of body sensors, wrist watch, and perhaps jewelries. In addition, traditional computer peripherals (mouse, keyboard, etc.) will also gain the benefit of operating with very low power consumption.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The coolest features of Bluetooth version 2.1+EDR

Play the video demo of Bluetooth v2.1+EDR by the Head of the Bluetooth SIG and a GEAR LIVE reporter. The 'Touch to Connect" feature is very cool. Also the pairing is simpler and more intuitive, which gave 100% improvement in connection time than the v2.0+EDR in the demo. It also introduced what is called NFC or Near Field Communication.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Fax over Bluetooth

I personally prefer email over facsimile to send and receive document. But in government, business and financial sectors, facsimile is still frequently used. Various solutions exist to address the need of people who don't have access to a fax machine and/or service to send/receive faxes. Many companies offer numerous fax services on the Internet. Most operate by converting email to fax for fax-sending and fax to email for fax-receiving. On my part, I would like to share my experience when using a practical solution, that's using my Bluetooth phone as a fax modem.

These are the requirements:

- a Bluetooth enabled phone
- a fax service subscription, already activated by your cellular operator
- a laptop or desktop PC running Windows XP SP2 (Home or Professional)
- a fax software (there is one that comes with Windows, that's the Fax Console)

Here are the step-by-step guide:

- Install your Bluetooth phone on your computer, find the detailed instructions on this link. If your installation succeeds, you'll see Standard Modem over Bluetooth link on the Device Manager and Phone and Modem Option.
- Open Printers and Faxes on Windows Explorer (Control Panel>Printer and Faxes)
- Right-click Fax icon, select Properties to open the Fax Properties window
- On Fax Properties, go to the "Devices" tab. Select Standard Modem over Bluetooth link, click Properties.
- On the modem Properties window, on the "Send" tab, you can specify your fax-sending settings, i.e. TSID and fax-sending number of retries.
- On the "Receive" tab, you can specify your fax-receiving settings, i.e. CSID, manual or automatic answer, fax-printing, and fax-backup.
- The settings you've defined in the fax modem Properties window, will appear on the "Devices" tab of Fax Properties window.
- Click Apply and OK.

Now you are ready to send and/or receive faxes using your Bluetooth phone as a fax modem.

You can send a fax using Windows' Fax Console (start > All Programs > Accessories > Communications> Fax > Fax Console) or via other Windows applications (File > Print).
I'll compile the screenshots. When they are ready, I'll put the link here. In the meantime, happy bluefaxing...

FYI: If you are planning to upgrade to Windows Vista, you can only find built-in fax software (i.e. Windows Fax and Scan) on Vista Business and Ultimate. You can't find it on Home Basic and Home Premium.

Bluetooth FAX Profile

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Don't have a LAN? Why not create a PAN?

If you have two PCs (desktop or laptop or whatever kinds of PAN-enabled computers), you can connect both with Bluetooth. I have tested, tried, and used it. It's a fun even at a maximum of 3 Mbps data rate.

Here below are the requirements:

- Your computers are running Windows XP SP2 (Home or Professional) or Vista,
- Both are Bluetooth-enabled using an external Bluetooth dongle or via an integrated-Bluetooth radio.

Even though the Microsoft stack solution only supports PAN user (PANU) service and doesn't support GN or NAP, I found this very handy in certain situations, such as on travel or inside a meeting. With this PANU-to-PANU direct connection, you can share any resources (files, folders, printers, etc.) except an Internet connection. I've also tried Net Meeting on this kind of PAN and it ran well.

To create such a Bluetooth ad hoc link, do these steps via Bluetooth Devices icon on Control Panel or the Bluetooth taskbar icon:

- Turn on the Bluetooth radio
- Make your computer discoverable (Bluetooth Devices>Options>Turn discovery on)
- Pair your computers (Bluetooth Devices>Devices>Add)
- Create a direct connection (Bluetooth taskbar icon>Join a Personal Area Network>select the paired computer on the list and click connect)
- Ready to share ...
- Open My Network Places and browse thoroughly under the Microsoft Windows Network, if you have set files/folders/printers to be shared across the ad hoc network, you can find them here.

Remember, each computer must have been assigned a unique name and both must have the same workgroup name. You can do this from Control Panel>System>System Properties>Computer Name>Change.

Here is the link as a comparison when using a PANU-to-GN connection with the help of a third party Bluetooth stack. Notice the difference, the latter is able to provide an Internet gateway and more than two computers (including PAN-enabled PDAs or smartphones) can join the wireless PAN.

==> The screenshots have been uploaded now (May 9, 07). You can read it here.

Bluetooth Version 2.1+EDR is coming

How many people who have Bluetooth-enabled PCs or gadgets have ever used their Bluetooth? According to a survey (sorry, I read somewhere and couldn't recall the source), only 30% of Bluetooth devices owners have ever used the radio. And those who manage to use it, most only taste a few applications such as small file transfer. Many other Bluetooth capabilities as described in the Bluetooth profiles are simply too complicated for novice users.

Driven by the above fact, the Bluetooth SIG has created an update to the existing Bluetooth Specification (i.e. Bluetooth version 2.0+EDR) with the focus on improved usability, security, and power consumption. The new specification will ensure a shorter pairing process involving less pairing steps, facilitate link encryption without user intervention, and reduce power consumption by up to five times. Such updates will hopefully be appealing to a broader user base to use Bluetooth in everyday activities and extending Bluetooth application to areas beyond its traditional markets.

The new Spec doesn't increase Bluetooth maximum data rate though, it remains at 3 Mbps. But in the future, the next Spec will enable Bluetooth to run over a very wide UWB channel to multiply data rates up to hundreds Mbps.