Several Bluetooth Wireless Networking Solutions Announced

If someone wants to connect wirelessly to a network with Bluetooth, there will soon be plenty of hardware and software available to allow this. At DEMOmobile 2001, Bluefish Wireless and Pico Communications have both announced Bluetooth network access tools.

Bluefish Wireless introduced its Bluetooth-enabled Access Point. This gives users the ability to use either Infrared or Bluetooth to transfer data to and from their handheld and the Internet or backend databases. It supports up to eight users at a time on a single access point.

Users wake-up the Access Point via an IR beam handshake and are then switched to Bluetooth communication, allowing Bluefish-enabled data to update and transactions to be sent through the network. The IR wake-up function saves significant amounts of power, increasing the life of battery-powered units, and provides for added security across the network.

The Bluefish Access Point will be available in the fourth quarter of this year, coinciding with Palm's expected Bluetooth support for Palm OS 4.x software, and will cost $500.

Pico Communications demonstrated PicoConnect, PicoSync, and their PicoBlue Internet Access Points.

PicoConnect is a background application on a Palm handheld that provides seamless Bluetooth wireless connectivity for any networking application (including surfing the Web) to the optimal Bluetooth network access point. If multiple PicoBlue Internet Access Points are in range, the application will connect to the least loaded one, or if no PicoBlue is in range, to a Bluetooth-enabled cellular telephone with Internet access.

PicoSync is a "one-click" button that uses PicoConnect technology to perform wireless network HotSync operations.

The PicoBlue Internet Access Point is a complete Bluetooth access point with integrated servers and networking features required for IP enterprise networking over Ethernet. PicoBlue was the first Class One point-to-multipoint access point to achieve 1.1 certification from the Bluetooth Qualification Body in June 2001. It can manage up to seven simultaneous links, allowing seven users to share access to the Internet at one time.

Pricing and availability were not released but the company does refer to the PicoBlue Internet Access Point as a low cost solution.

Of course, an important part of this is Palm OS handhelds with Bluetooth capabilities. Palm has thrown its weight heavily behind Bluetooth. It is also an important member of the Bluetooth SIG and has promised a Bluetooth SD card by the end of this year and that next year it will release handhelds with built-in Bluetooth.

Sony has also shown support for Bluetooth. It is expected to release the Infostick, a Memory Stick with Bluetooth capabilities, sometime this year.

There has also been strong third-party support for Bluetooth. Several companies have announced clip-on modules for the Palm V series.

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Cable replacement?

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/6/2001 11:50:01 AM #
I thought bluetooth was only for cable replacement? now it is networking? I guess Betamax/VHS war is here to stay.

RE: Cable replacement?
Token @ 9/6/2001 2:11:16 PM #
Bluetooth is a connectivity method to allow you to set up a PAN (Personal Area Network). The devices that make up your PAN could be storage arrays, cellphones, printers, or ethernet access gateways. Note that these are ethernet GATEWAYS - acting as a router between the Bluetooth protocol and standard IP based protocols.


I.M. Anonymous @ 9/6/2001 4:04:41 PM #
I think that 2002 is going to be a huge year for Palm. Its only a matter of time before they will begin building Bluetooth modules into Palms (as I understand it anyway, and soon ARM processors will take Palms to the next level. I was seriously considering buying a Handera, N710C, or m505, but none had all of the features I wanted, and I think that next year, we're going to see some units that will blow us away. Thats just my 2 cents.

RE: 2002
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/7/2001 8:29:42 AM #
Nah, we won't see units that will blow us away. At least not most of the people here. They'll still bitch about the color, or the external memory support, or the way it smells when they open the box, etc.

I personally see some great stuff on the horizon though, and I don't get enjoyment about bitching about colors.



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