Bluetooth: how it works

What is Bluetooth and how it works

Bluetooth: how it works

Before getting to the heart of the matter and understanding it in detail how Bluetooth works, it is good that you acquire some theoretical knowledge about this type of technology. First, Bluetooth is a communication standard wireless su short distance, designed by the company Ericcson in 1994 and managed to date since Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group), which includes, in addition to Ericcson, large technology companies such as Nokia, ToshibaIntel.

Unlike many other names belonging to the world of technology, the term Bluetooth has nothing to do with its literal translation from English (the meaning of the term would in fact be "blue tooth"), but finds its origins, in a rather metaphorical, from a character of the Middle Ages: Harald Bluetooth.

Harald Bluetooth, in English Harald Bluetooth, was a Danish king who lived in the tenth century after Christ: with his military and diplomatic skills, he managed to unite the various tribes of his land, different in customs and cultures, in a single and compact "national" group. The metaphor desired by the creators of the technology is precisely this: to develop a system that, just like Re Bluetooth, was able to put in communication and combine completely different devices, for example smartphones, cars, computers, audio devices, input devices (eg keyboards and mice) and so on.

Going a little more into detail, every Bluetooth compatible device has a particular a chip Low energy consumption able to create a private wireless network (PAN in jargon) that can connect devices in a relatively small range: to be precise, the physical coverage of a Bluetooth PAN network varies from 1 to 100 meters, depending on the class of the Bluetooth used in the chip. At the time of writing, the available classes are as follows.

  • Class 1 - has a power of 100 mW (or milliwatts) and can cover a maximum operating distance of 100 meters as the crow flies.
  • Class 2 - with a power of 2.5 mW, this version of Bluetooth can cover a maximum operating distance of 10 meters as the crow flies.
  • Class 3 - it is the version with the least wide coverage: with a power of only 1 mW, it can cover an operating distance of approx 1 meters.

Generally speaking, the higher the Bluetooth class, the higher the power consumption. Most “common” devices, such as notebooks and smartphones, have a class 2 Bluetooth chip.

Bluetooth: how it works

Another distinction that is made between the various Bluetooth types is that of version: Currently, available Bluetooth versions range from 1.0 (the least developed) to the 5.0 (the most recent).

Clearly, to exploit the potential of each version, the chips involved in the communication must have support for the same versions of the technology: for example, to take advantage of the efficiency of Bluetooth 3.0, both devices must be equipped with chips of that version, or later version (recent generation Bluetooth chips, in fact, are backwards compatible with older Bluetooth standards). You can find the differences between the various versions of Bluetooth on this Wikipedia page.

Regarding the "material" transmission of data, the Bluetooth standard uses the radio band to where cut (UHF) on frequencies ranging from 2.4 GHz ai 2.485 GHz and uses an approach master/slave: the device master is what creates the PAN while the device slave it is what remains “listening” waiting to be added and, if placed in modality detectable, sends “signals” at regular intervals to notify the neighboring masters of its presence.

In practice, the connection operation between two Bluetooth devices is called pairing or, in in your languagen, coupling: the device master (eg. the computer) scans the other Bluetooth devices in range and, under the user's command, sends a "connection request" to the device slave listening (e.g. Bluetooth mouse).

When the slave accepts the request, it is added to the PAN network created by the master and communication begins. In some cases, it is necessary to enter a security code on both devices to finalize the pairing procedure. In some cases, pairing between two Bluetooth devices can also be performed for physical contact (in other words, making the affected devices touch each other), using NFC technology.

At this point, you've begun to wonder how you can take advantage of this handy technology: Bluetooth is used for data transfer of different "type" between two devices. This means that a Bluetooth network can be used for both file exchange between two devices, both to carry out the operations of input / output between the devices involved. The tools that make use of it are really numerous, below you will list some categories of use.

  • Laptops, smartphonestablet - most of these devices are equipped with a Bluetooth chip and work mainly as a master. If you have a computer not equipped with Bluetooth, know that there are external adapters, even very small ones, equipped with a dedicated chip and can be connected to the computer via USB. You can find them in major physical and online electronics stores, including Amazon.
  • Mouse and keyboards - how ugly are the cables in plain sight on the desk? Well, using a Bluetooth mouse and / or keyboard you will see them magically disappear! In addition, these devices can also be connected to "masters" not designed for use via such inputs, such as TV Box, Smart TV or game console.
  • Earphones, headphones and speakers - in order to avoid cables that "fall" from the ears, sometimes very annoying, various devices capable of reproducing audio and equipped with Bluetooth connectivity are available on the market. To get an idea, I invite you to consult my guides to buying the best Bluetooth headsets, the best Bluetooth headphones and the best Bluetooth speakers.
  • Car satellite navigators and on-board computers - to date, more and more satellite navigators are equipped with Bluetooth connectivity. In addition, in many cars, it is possible to connect your smartphone via Bluetooth, to use it via the integrated display and to reproduce its sounds via the speakers installed in the car. In particular, some such systems have an Android Auto or CarPlay operating system.
  • Smartwatch e smartband/fitness tracker - if you love to always have your notifications in view, or if you carry out physical activity that requires continuous monitoring, these are certainly the solutions for you. And, I'll tell you, these devices connect to the smartphone or tablet from which they are managed via Bluetooth! In this regard, I highly recommend that you check out my guide to buying the best smartwatch.

How to activate Bluetooth

Now that you have fully understood what Bluetooth is for and how this technology can be useful to you, it's time to take action and understand how to activate Bluetooth on devices. master best known, such as smartphone, tablet e computer.


Bluetooth: how it works

If you have a smartphone or tablet Android, activating Bluetooth is quite simple, however the procedures may be different between one version of Android and another. Generally speaking, for turn on Bluetooth, just call up thenotify area of Android, swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom, and pressing the icon Bluetooth (a stylized "B") until it lights up. You can turn off Bluetooth connectivity by simply repeating the operation.

If the icon is not present, proceed as follows: press the icon Settings placed in the application list of your device, select the item Bluetooth placed in the section Wireless and ret and move up ON the switch located at the top right. At this point, a search for nearby Bluetooth devices is performed: press the icon of the device you are interested in pairing and follow the procedure suggested on the screen.

Unfortunately I cannot be very detailed on the pairing procedures, as they can be different depending on the device you use. What I recommend, however, is to consult the user manual of your slave device (headphones, speakers, mouse, keyboards and so on) to receive the necessary information on finalizing the pairing. To unpair a device, all you have to do is press on its icon and select the item Disassocia give the purpose menu.

In order to make your Android device discoverable for other devices, or set it up for receiving files, just keep the aforementioned panel open. If, on the other hand, you want to change the name with which your device is recognized from the outside, always on the screen Bluetooth, pigia sul pulsating  collocato in alto a destra and seleziona la voce Rename this device.


Bluetooth: how it works

You have a iPhone, for an iPad o iPod Touch and you want to connect external Bluetooth devices, for example AirPods or the Apple Watch? Perfect, the procedure to activate Bluetooth on iOS is very simple! First, press the icon Settings placed on the main screen of your device, tap on the item Bluetooth present in the screen that opens and moves up ON the switch proposed in the next panel.

Within a few seconds, you will be shown all the Bluetooth devices located nearby: then touch the item relating to the device to be connected and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the pairing procedure. The device will stay on detectable mode as long as the Bluetooth settings panel remains open. If you want to completely disable Bluetooth connectivity, go to the screen shown above and move the switch to OFF.

Bluetooth: how it works

Once enabled, you can temporarily disable Bluetooth from the Control Center: all you have to do is call up the aforementioned area with one swipe from bottom to top and press the icon relating to Bluetooth (a stylized "B"), until the outline turns white.

In this way, the Bluetooth will be deactivated, but only partially: the existing connections, in fact, are interrupted until the next day and new connections cannot be started, except for Apple Watch Apple Pencil (which, on the other hand, remain connected and possibly associated), for Handoff and for Personal Hotspot.


Bluetooth: how it works

Your PC Windows has Bluetooth connectivity but you have no idea how you can activate it? Don't worry, this is extremely simple and can be done in just a couple of clicks.

If Bluetooth connectivity is "natively" integrated into your PC, the first thing you need to do is activate it by moving the switch or pressing the dedicated physical button, which is marked with the Bluetooth symbol (the stylized "B"): depending on the type of computer, the switch or key can be independent (which therefore needs a simple pressure to be used), or “Included” in the keyboard (in this case, you will almost certainly have to hold down the key Fn keyboard to use it).

If, on the other hand, your computer does not have built-in connectivity and you have purchased a external Bluetooth adapter, connect the device to the USB port of the PC and wait a few seconds for its driver are installed correctly. If the Bluetooth activation or installation operation is successful, in the system notification area (the one next to the clock, so to speak) you will see the Bluetooth symbol. In some cases, the Bluetooth icon is present in the notification area but not immediately visible: to view it, click on arrow pointing up to show all elements of the notification area and look for it in the box that opens.

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If the Bluetooth icon does not appear even by clicking on the arrow in the notification area, follow the instructions provided by your manufacturer for installing the adapter drivers or, alternatively, leave the device connected to the PC and rely on a program for installing missing drivers on Windows, as I explained to you in my dedicated guide.

Your PC is equipped with Windows 10? Then know that you can activate Bluetooth connectivity in an extremely simple way: press the icon of thenotify area located at the bottom right of the screen (the one in the shape of a "cartoon") and look for the button Bluetooth (denoted by a stylized “B”) between the buttons located at the bottom of the panel. Once identified, click on it and wait for it to turn blue: from this moment, Bluetooth will be active. To access the Bluetooth settings, right click on the button mentioned above and select the item Go to settings give the purpose menu.

If the button is not present in the notification area, click on the button Home (the flag icon) located at the bottom left, then presses the button (I.e. on the left of the menu that opens and, in the next window, first select the icon devices and then the voice Bluetooth and other devices: after that, set on On the Bluetooth switch and Bluetooth connectivity will be activated on the PC.

Bluetooth: how it works

Through the aforementioned panel it is also possible to associate new devices to the computer: to do this, click on the button capacitor positive (+) lead located in the upper part of the window, then select the item Bluetooth from the proposed panel, wait for Windows to detect the device to be paired, click on its icon and follow the on-screen instructions to proceed with pairing. For more information on managing Bluetooth devices in Windows 10, I urge you to check out my guide on how to turn on Bluetooth on Windows 10.

If you have an older version of Windows, however, you can access the Bluetooth features by clicking on the right key mouse on the icon located in thenotify area already mentioned above: in the panel that appears, you can send or receive a file by pressing on the item Transfer fillet or add a new device by selecting the item Add a Bluetooth device.

Bluetooth: how it works

If the menu associated with the icon does not offer you these options, proceed as shown below.

  •  receive or send files, open the Start menu (or the Start Screen, if you are on Windows 8.1) by clicking on the relative icon located at the bottom left, type the words bluetooth file transfer in the search field, click on the first result obtained and, after selecting if send or receive a file, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the operation.
  •  pair a new device, start the Control Panel calling it from the Start menu (or typing the words in its search area control panel), then click on the sections Hardware and soundDevices and printers and finally, click on the button Add a device located at the top left, select the Bluetooth device to pair and follow the instructions provided on the screen.


Bluetooth: how it works

You don't use a Windows computer but do you have a Mac available? Do not worry, turn on Bluetooth it is just as simple, the operation can be completed in a matter of seconds. Usually, this type of connectivity is included in MacBooks and iMacs but, if not, you can safely buy a USB adapter (I told you about it before), connect it to your computer and follow the instructions I am about to give you.

To activate Bluetooth on macOS, first click on the icon System preference located in the Dock bar (the gear), select the item Bluetooth in the proposed window and then presses the button Turn on Bluetooth, located on the left. Once this is complete, you can use your Bluetooth to send files, receive them and pair them with other devices.

Then click onbluetooth icon (the stylized "B") residing on the right side of the menu bar (if you don't see this icon, go back to System Preferences> Bluetooth  and apponi il segno di spunta accanto alla voce Show Bluetooth in the menu bar) and choose the option Send files to device... to send a file or Browse files on device ... to receive a file by "taking it" directly from the device on which it resides, then follow the instructions on the screen to complete the operation.

Finally, to pair a new Bluetooth device, access the panel once again System Preferences> Bluetooth as I explained earlier, wait for the device you intend to pair with is visible in the box devices, select its icon and press the button Match, following any additional instructions shown on the screen. Easy, right?

If you still have any doubts about how to activate Bluetooth from your computer, Windows or macOS, I urge you to consult my guide on how to activate Bluetooth on your PC, in which I have dealt with the topic in more detail.

Bluetooth: how it works

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