Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows short-range communication between devices. Bluetooth-enabled computers, tablets, and smartphones can use it to connect to a wide variety of peripherals like wireless keyboards, fitness trackers, or headphones. It operates over the 2.4 GHz frequency band and has a typical range of about 30 feet, or 10 meters.
Transferring data between two Bluetooth devices requires pairing them together. Once the pairing process is complete, the two devices can transmit data as long as they're within range of each other. They will even automatically reconnect whenever they are both turned on and nearby. While devices like computers, smartphones, or tablets can connect to several Bluetooth devices at once, peripherals can have one active connection at a time — if you want to move a peripheral to another device, you should un-pair it from the first one. Otherwise, both devices will attempt to connect to the peripheral, and only one connection may be active at a time.
The Bluetooth specification has gone through several revisions since it was first launched. Newer revisions support increased range, data transfer speed, and security. Bluetooth 4.0 also introduced a separate Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) variant that uses significantly less power.
Bluetooth's low power requirements make it an ideal wireless connection for many devices. Some of the most common types of Bluetooth peripherals include:
- Wireless audio devices like headphones, speakers, and phone headsets. Many cars include Bluetooth-enabled infotainment systems that allow you to stream audio or make hands-free phone calls.
- Computer peripherals like wireless mice and keyboards, as well as video game console controllers.
- Smart home devices and sensors. Some devices use Bluetooth as a temporary connection while configuring a new device, while other low-power devices use it as the primary connection.
- Smartwatches, activity trackers, and other wearable devices. These peripherals often require a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone for Internet access and data processing.