The first "bluetooth" consumer products will be available in New Zealand within the next few months, says Ericsson marketing manager Steve Inglis.
Bluetooth is a short-range radio-based technology that links portable devices like mobile phones, portable PCs and printers so they can exchange data. Each device can communicate with other devices within a 10m radius, creating a "piconet" - a group of devices connected on an ad hoc wireless basis. The first products to reach the market are likely to be add-on products to connect existing Ericsson mobile phones and notebook computers.
Ericsson has developed a series of prototype products that demonstrate the technology in action, including a portable headset that links to a mobile phone, and a personal digital assistant (PDA) in a watch that can access and update information on Microsoft Outlook when it's within range of a Bluetooth-enabled PC.
Bluetooth operates on the globally available 2.45GHz frequency band and is capable of transmitting voice and data at a gross rate of 1Mb/s.
Encryption and a frequency-hopping scheme with 1600hops/s are used to ensure signals go to the device they are meant for - so no one else gets your email.
The technology has been developed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) - which has 800 members, including Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Nokia, 3Com and Toshiba - and is available royalty-free to any telecommunications, PC or consumer company that wants to join the initiative.