Bluetooth is a system whereby data can be exchanged over short distances, using short wavelength radio transmissions. Originally created by Ericsson in 1994, it now comes as standard in almost all mobile phones, along with many other mobile devices and computers.
Bluetooth is named after a Danish king, the 10th century Harald I, as he united the tribes of Denmark into one single kingdom. The Bluetooth system was intended to do just that; connect people who would not otherwise be connected into a single whole.
Since the turn of the century, Bluetooth has started to appear in many devices, both handheld and otherwise. Now it can be found in everything from mp3 players, to games consoles, to telephones, and even watches. One of the first uses of Bluetooth to gain popularity was the link between mobile telephones and Bluetooth headsets. This allowed users to take their hands away from their phones while they talked, meaning they can be used legally while driving, along with making it easier to multitask in a variety of different ways.
Security concerns have dogged Bluetooth since it became mass marketable. Often called “Bluejacking”, someone will send an unsuspecting mobile phone user with Bluetooth a message, that can be spam, spyware or something entirely more dangerous. It is possible to take control of a user’s mobile phone and force them to phone a premium rate line, owned by the intruder. However, companies are always at pains to make sure Bluetooth is safe and secure; the problems experienced are not so very different from those suffered by computer users after the advent of the internet, and are dealt with in a similar manner.
There are numerous commercial uses of Bluetooth, proximity marketing being among the most successful to date. When a user with a Bluetooth enabled device walks into range of a transmitter, usually placed in a town centre or other venue with high footfall, a message will be sent to the user asking if they want to receive the content the advertiser is offering. If they are willing, the user will receive ads, discounts or other potentially useful content, which they can make use of.
A potential problem is the number of users who keep their Bluetooth switched off, due to the aforementioned security fears, or more usually simply a desire to save battery life. However, the number of discoverable Bluetooth devices far outweighs this, and therefore it is definitely a viable method of advertising for many businesses.