Good old Bluetooth, the hot topic in regard to personal area networks (PANs). Though it goes into a sort of technology-remission every so often, it is still out there and has a loyal following. Attention is once again being focused in its direction, but this time for different reasons.

You know a product has made its mark when it is featured on television commercials. But does the average person really know what Bluetooth is? It's one of those things that many people want to have, yet they are not sure why. Reports place the number of Bluetooth-enabled products being shipped at around 3 million units per week. That is a significant number.

You may already be using a Bluetooth-enabled product; it may be that cell phone that you carry with you everywhere. You have new technology and you didn't even know it.

Bluetooth is both a short-range wireless technology and a radio technology. It operates at 2.4GHz and is capable of transmitting both voice and data, which helps explain why many are intrigued by it, increasingly so in this information age. Not only can one transfer data with a Bluetooth wireless connection, one can also synchronize information. Some examples of prime Bluetooth products include cell phones, laptops, PDAs, headsets, keyboards and speakers.

In order for a device to communicate with others, each must be Bluetooth-enabled, so many products have the capability. But for Bluetooth to catch on and for the technology to work, and work well, everyone will have to have a whole bunch of Bluetooth devices. It will also be necessary to have many access points, allowing Bluetooth technology to operate efficiently.

By using Bluetooth, one can actually access the Internet (or a network) using a cell phone to serve as the laptop connection. This is making mobile computing more advanced than before.

According to Eric Schneider, marketing programs manager, Bluetooth SIG, “Bluetooth wireless technology is in its early stages of adoption by the masses. Time, innovation and imagination will present new use cases and product categories not known today. Today, many excellent products and applications exist, but consumers should continue to keep their eyes out for Bluetooth products on the horizon, and should continue to question, of their product manufacturers, why any wired connections still exist in our wireless world.”

Bluetooth is already being made available by a ton of manufacturers. But how do you determine which Bluetooth products are better than others? Hard to say.

It can come down to preference and reputation. Schneider said, “I think it is important to understand that not all Bluetooth-enabled devices are created equal. While the Bluetooth functionality of any Bluetooth device should be reasonably expected to have adhered to the same qualification process, the devices that Bluetooth wireless technology is built into are not all of the same quality.

“More than 3,000 companies in the world have capabilities to make Bluetooth-enabled devices, and like any variation of products in a product category, consumers must assess the overall quality of that product and all of its features,” he said.

To sum up, just because something says that it is Bluetooth-enabled doesn't necessarily mean you should buy it. Understanding the technology will help you choose the product best suited for your needs.

Selling what you know

Perhaps the best thing about Bluetooth's popularity among consumers is that it is easier for contractors to sell wireless solutions to customers. Demonstrating Bluetooth's capabilities and benefits could show how it could both improve daily life and business efficiency.

Contractors may find using Bluetooth for their own business needs helpful. Since many are on the go constantly, adding another wireless solution as a business tool makes sense. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.