Bluetooth Applications: An Update

In the February 6 Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I answered reader questions about various aspects of the mobile and wireless industry ( you can read the article, "Mobile & Wireless Q & A," at ) One question focused on non-typical uses of the Bluetooth technology. Several readers responded with some ideas that I want to share with you.

A few readers seem disappointed by the unrealized potential of Bluetooth, claiming that the technology has failed in comparison with Wi-Fi. But remember that Bluetooth isn't aimed at the same market as Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is more suited to Personal Area Network (PAN) scenarios, such as cable replacement and local device connectivity. Bluetooth has the advantage of low power consumption, making it relevant to small devices (e.g., mobile phones) that have limited battery resources. If you think Bluetooth has failed, you might be rushing to judgment. Today, many vendors are creating Bluetooth-enabled equipment, and as these solutions hit the market the use of Bluetooth will surely increase. I've recently seen a few articles about a new Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse that promise to provide the ultimate wireless desktop. For more information, see the following URL.

A reader from Denmark commented about the use of Bluetooth for home automation. His specific example was using a Pocket PC to open a Bluetooth-enabled garage door. I think we'll begin to see many more Bluetooth home-automation solutions, including automatic locks, household-appliance monitoring, and situations for which you might use a remote control today. The ability to consolidate control of many household devices into one device is attractive--as a personal example, I have four remote controls on my coffee table: for the TV, DVD player, A/V receiver, and VHS player.


In the January 23 Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I talked about some of the mobile and wireless features of Exchange Server 2003, which Microsoft is scheduled to release in mid-2003. The integration of mobile and wireless features into Exchange is certainly an improvement over the current situation, which involves implementing Microsoft Mobile Information Server (MIS) separately and requires additional hardware, planning, and support.

After performing further research into Exchange 2003, I've discovered that Exchange 2003's implementation of Microsoft Outlook Mobile Access (OMA)--used for microbrowser access to email, calendar, contacts, and tasks--officially supports only Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) 2.0 devices. (WAP enables wireless Internet access to specialized mobile Web sites.) The problem with this approach is that only a few of the newest wireless devices (e.g., the Sony Ericsson t68i) support WAP 2.0, whereas millions of existing devices support older versions of WAP and other protocols. You might be able to use unsupported devices with OMA 2003, but Microsoft offers no guarantee that the devices will work properly. I'm not a fan of this Microsoft tactic: By not offering wide device support, the company will leave most enterprises no choice but to find other solutions.

On a related note, I want to mention that the next version of Microsoft Outlook--Outlook 11, which is part of Microsoft Office 11 and designed to work closely with Exchange 2003--is the first truly mobile version of the messaging client. Outlook 11 lets users work uninterrupted even when connectivity isn't present. This "always available" connectivity model obviously permits enhanced productivity. See you next time.

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