Bluetooth group targets ease of use


11 Dec 2002

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The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) yesterday unveiled a new programme created to challenge Bluetooth wireless product developers and manufacturers to deliver devices that give consumers a ‘five-minute out-of-the-box experience’.

The announcement came at the opening day of the Bluetooth Developers Conference in San Jose, California. Mike McCamon, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG, outlined the new programme, dubbed ‘5-Minute Ready,’ during his opening keynote address. Associate member companies have met face to face throughout the past year to focus on steps to enhance interoperability among Bluetooth-enabled products from different vendors. The new action plan for 2003 is the result of their collective efforts.

5-Minute Ready is designed to address both the manufacturer and consumer and aims to help meet the needs of the industry, as scores of diverse Bluetooth products come to market. Consumers will be provided with resources to learn how to quickly and conveniently use Bluetooth wireless technology. Manufacturers will be provided with guidelines and tools for development and design to help them deliver products that work together in minutes.

“Producing interoperable products that are set-up friendly is ultimately the responsibility of the manufacturers and this new programme will help guide and provide incentives for manufacturers to make the technology even more of a success,” said Joyce Putscher, director at market research firm, In-Stat/MDR.

The Bluetooth product designers, developers and manufacturer’s portion of the 5-Minute Ready programme will begin rolling out in the first quarter of 2003 and will include the following initiatives: a Bluetooth designer handbook with information on best practices and recommended methodologies for Bluetooth implementations; reference platforms against which manufacturers can test their products; establishment of an independent testing facility for device interoperability at the University of Kansas, sponsored by the Bluetooth SIG and a Bluetooth-user lexicon available in 33 languages, to provide a region-based glossary of terms for performing common Bluetooth functions, such as ‘pairing’ and ‘discoverable’.

The consumer phase of the 5-Minute Ready programme centres on an overall website redesign for www.bluetooth.com, with consumer education tools as the site’s primary service. Beginning rollout in the first quarter of 2003, these will include the following: publication of consumer use cases; potential product pairs and a searchable consumer product database designed to familiarise users with applications and scenarios for Bluetooth wireless technology; a consumer troubleshooting guide about basic use concepts and tips to enhance the benefits of Bluetooth wireless technology as well as a consumer glossary to provide definitions for common Bluetooth wireless terms.

Bluetooth is a radio-based technology that enables wireless communication between devices via short-wave radio. Its basic strengths are that it can operate at distances of around 10 metres and devices don’t require a line of sight to communicate. At present, its prime utilisation is in cable replacement, the classic example being wireless communication between laptops and mobile phones. The standard is designed to allow for interoperability between devices no matter what the manufacturer. Despite its growing popularity, issues have arisen in recent times with certain combinations of devices, a problem which the new initiative hopes to address.

By Dick O’Brien