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How To Bluetooth Works

Bluetooth or bluetooth (translated as blue tooth) is a technology for wireless data transmission . Bluetooth enables the exchange of information between devices such as personal computers (desktops, handhelds, laptops), mobile phones, printers, digital cameras, mice, keyboards, joysticks, headphones, headsets on a reliable, inexpensive, ubiquitous radio frequency for short-range communication.

Bluetooth translates as “Blue Tooth,” the author of this device had an extraordinary association. This standard allows data to be transmitted over a short distance using radio waves. In this case, both devices must have a particular module, which acts as both a transmitter and a sender.

So we got to the question and what Bluetooth is for. In the very early days, it was used to transfer data. For example, it was possible to transfer photos from one phone to another. Now the possibilities have expanded, and all wireless headphones work on this technology.

The principle is quite simple, Bluetooth is turned on on the phone and the headphones, and then there is pairing when two devices are connected. After that, the user turns on the music and listens to it on his headphones. But also “Blue Tooth” is often used to download videos, pictures, photos from a phone or other device to a computer or laptop. By the way, most laptop models have Bluetooth, and it is also used.

We started talking about radio waves, but something got distracted. This same technology operates at a frequency of 2.4 GHz. Strange as it may seem, but mobile communications, Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, and much more work at the same frequency.

First saw the light of “Blue Tooth” in 1989, when the first version 1.0 was released. After that, more and more new versions were released: 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, etc. The main feature of the version improvement is to increase the data transfer rate, reduce interference and power.

Bluetooth is an open standard that was described in the IEEE 802.15.1 specification. It includes three main power classes with ranges of 1 meter, 10 meters, and 100 meters.

The development of the Bluetooth standard was initiated by Ericsson, which, together with IBM , IntelNokia, and Toshiba, formed the SIG (Special Interest Group) in 1994 to develop a universal short-range wireless communication standard. The idea of ​​getting rid of wires quickly evolved to the LAN and evolved into the WLAN (Wi-Fi) network we know today.

The first version of the Bluetooth 1.0 standard was introduced in 1989

The current standard is Bluetooth 5.0 (+ new Bluetooth 5.1 ), as well as the popular old Bluetooth 4.2 standard .

Bluetooth connects two devices, such as a smartphone with a headset in a passenger car. The connection is created using a PAN (Personal Area Network), which has one point-to-point connection. Any device with Bluetooth has a unique AMA (Active Member Address), i.e. an identifier that makes it easy to recognize the device. Manufacturers can also refer to their devices with friendly names, making it easier to find the selected equipment in a list of nearby Bluetooth devices. The user can often change this name to something else.

Bluetooth also allows you to connect more devices (up to 8) on the same network. In this case, a point-to-multipoint connection is used, with one device acting as a server and the rest as nodes.

In addition, Bluetooth devices have standby functions so that the user does not need to connect devices each time. For example, a mouse associated with a device will automatically reconnect after a reboot. The hands-free kit in the vehicle’s infotainment system will connect to the last paired smartphone every time the engine is started.

The theoretical Bluetooth specification provides for the use of up to 256 devices in standby mode. This is possible thanks to the PMA (Passive Member Adres) addressing, which is 8 bits wide (2 8 = 256 devices).

Bluetooth Classes and Ranges

On the web, you can find information about three classes of Bluetooth. Their main task is to determine the maximum transmission range and power of the wireless connection.

  • Class 1 allows 100 milliwatts (mW) wireless connections. This means maximum coverage of up to 100 meters (with no obstacles such as walls between the connected devices). It is a long-range and powerful class. Bluetooth modules of this kind are used in computers and hands-free systems in cars.
  • Class 2 has a maximum transmit power of 10 milliwatts (mW). Limiting the power by 10 times reduces the maximum transmission distance to 50 meters (with no obstacles such as walls between the connected devices). This type of adapter is used in Bluetooth to USB modules.
  • Class 3 is used for data transmission with a minimum power set at 1 milliwatt ( mW ). Bluetooth Class 3 allows data transmission over a distance of 10 meters.

Most Popular Bluetooth Versions

It isn’t easy to find devices with Bluetooth 1-2.1 on the market these days. Devices available on the market use one of the following Bluetooth versions:

  • Bluetooth 3 – In the case of Bluetooth 3.0, we are dealing with version 3.0 HS Bluetooth. The abbreviation HS stands for High Speed, which means increased data transfer rate. This solution allows you to send data at a speed of 24 Mbps. The new version of Bluetooth 3.1 TH increased this speed to 40 Mbps.
  • Bluetooth 4 – The first version of Bluetooth 4.0 had the addition LE in its name. This label stands for Low Energy. When developing this standard, the creators paid special attention to reducing energy consumption and increasing the range of up to 100 meters – all this came at a cost due to the bandwidth, which dropped to 1 Mb / s. Power-saving transmission is even slower and has a range of up to 10 meters.
  • Bluetooth 4.1 is a modification of Bluetooth 4.0 designed for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Allows direct connection of these devices to the internet using Bluetooth.
  • Bluetooth 4.2 offers even greater energy efficiency while enhancing security and ensuring fast data transport. In addition, the pairing process has been fixed.
  • Bluetooth 5.0 focuses on combining the capabilities of Bluetooth 4.2 as well as Bluetooth 3.0. In BLE mode, the throughput is increased to 2 Mbps. With this solution, you can quickly update your fitness bracelet and smartwatch without Wi-Fi.

If the manufacturer decides to limit the transmission to 125 KB / s, then the range can be increased to 200 meters (in open spaces). They can also improve speed through energy efficiency or slower but make data transmission more energy efficient.

Bluetooth profiles

Bluetooth technology supports various profiles. They are responsible for how and whether devices can communicate with each other using Bluetooth.

Many different profiles are tailored for specific applications. Below are the most popular ones:

  • A2DP – Advanced Stereo Sound Distribution Profile.
  • AVCTP – Audio / Video Control Transport is used to transmit sound and image.
  • AVRCP is an audio-video remote control profile that performs the function of a control panel that uses Bluetooth communication for communication.
  • BPP – Basic Printing Profile, used to print documents from a mobile phone using Bluetooth, is currently not used; Wi-Fi took over its role.
  • BIP – Basic Image Profile transfers, displays, and prints files in JPEG (photo) format.
  • GAVDP – Generic AV Distribution Profile – controls the transmission of data, audio, and video.
  • HSP – Handset Profile, used to work with headphone media control keys.
  • HFP – Hands-Free Profile is designed for hands-free phone calls.
  • PBAP – Phonebook Access Profile – is used to access the phone book on the connected device, for example, a hands-free kit.
  • SYNC – Synchronization, used for data synchronization, provides data transfer to/from PC.

How is data transmitted using Bluetooth?

Bluetooth uses the ISM (Industrial, Scientific, and Medical Band) frequency band, ranging from 2.402 to 2.480 GHz. Up to 79 channels are available in this interval. Each of them has a bandwidth of 1 MHz. The 2.4 GHz frequency band, very close to 2.402 GHz, uses a Wi-Fi connection compliant with the IEEE 802.11 standard.

Bluetooth supports on-the-fly frequency change (FHSS) functions, thanks to which channels can be changed 1600 times within a second. These changes and the transmission of small data packets lead to the fact that Bluetooth connections remain stable.

Bluetooth and WLAN (Wi-Fi) – What’s the differences?

Bluetooth and WLAN come from the same idea and work similarly but are used for entirely different actions.

Bluetooth uses two different communication methods: SCO – Synchronous Connection-Oriented and ACL – Asynchronous Connectionless Link. SCO is used for real-time voice transmission at a maximum speed of 64 kbps. The rest of the data is transmitted using ACLs and requires the sending device to have built-in memory to store the data.

The WLAN (Wi-Fi) network can transmit data only in asynchronous mode. In addition, Wi-Fi operates on other frequencies and has much higher bandwidth.

Where to find Bluetooth settings on your device

The location in which the settings for Bluetooth are located depends only and exclusively on the manufacturer of a particular device. Fortunately, nowadays, smartphones and computers use multiple operating systems with the settings in one place.

In Android, you need to launch the Settings application and find the Connections → Bluetooth section. Alternatively, you can use the search engine inside Settings or go to Bluetooth settings by long-pressing the Bluetooth icon in the notification bar.

On iOS, launch the Settings app and select the Bluetooth section, which is almost at the very top.

In Windows 10, launch the Settings app → Devices → Bluetooth. Alternatively, you can navigate to Bluetooth settings using quick actions in the notification center of the Windows 10 operating system.

On macOS, you need to launch the System Preferences → Bluetooth application.

How to determine the Bluetooth version on a device

Over 20 years, several versions of Bluetooth have entered the market, which, although they are compatible with each other, have different capabilities and technical parameters. In mobile devices, due to their small size, the Bluetooth module is integrated with the processor within a single SoC (System on a Chip).

In the case of smartphones with Android, you can install the application, such as Aida64 or the CPU-the Z, which informs about the version of Bluetooth.

In the case of Windows computers, you need to launch the Device manager (it can be found through the system search) and go to the Bluetooth menu. When choosing a module, go to the “Additional” section. There you will see an LMP line with a number.

Below is information about which number corresponds to which Bluetooth standard:

  • LMP 9.x – Bluetooth 5.0
  • LMP 8.x – Bluetooth 4.2
  • LMP 7.x – Bluetooth 4.1
  • LMP 6.x – Bluetooth 4.0
  • LMP 5.x – Bluetooth 3.0 + HS
  • LMP 4.x – Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • LMP 3.x – Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • LMP 2.x – Bluetooth 1.2
  • LMP 1.x – Bluetooth 1.1
  • LMP 0.x – Bluetooth 1.0 b

On Mac computers, go to Finder → About This Mac → System Report → Bluetooth. The Bluetooth Core Spec parameter shows what version of Bluetooth the computer has.

For the type of Bluetooth version you are using, refer to the technical specification for this device. In addition, all Bluetooth equipment has a special certification.

How to connect devices using Bluetooth

Connecting devices using Bluetooth itself is seemingly simple, but in practice, users have considerable problems with it.

To connect two devices, they must have an active Bluetooth module. Bluetooth settings are usually found in the connection settings. For Android smartphones, you can launch Bluetooth using quick settings on the notification panel. Users of devices with iOS / iPadOS can use the “Control Center.”

The equipment to which we want to connect another device, for example, a hands-free kit, must be in pairing mode. Unfortunately, each manufacturer often “hides” the function of activating the pairing mode in its place in the menu. Sometimes the equipment can be connected immediately after turning on Bluetooth, others after some time, and the third only after turning on the corresponding option. In this case, it is best to check the operating instructions for the equipment.

When trying to connect, both devices display a four-digit PIN code (usually 0000 or 1234), which makes sure that we are pairing the selected devices only after confirmation with the PIN code does the pairing process starts.

Bluetooth connection using NFC

A significant part of new smartphones and tablets have a built-in NFC – Near Field Communication module. This solution is used to pay using Google PayApple Pay, and other payment systems.

Few people know that NFC can also be used to pair two devices quickly. If you have an NFC-enabled smartphone and another NFC-enabled device, such as a soundbar or headphones, bring the devices close to each other, and automatic pairing will start. In this case, you do not need to enter the PIN code or additionally confirm the connection.

Why doesn’t my smartphone detect all devices?

As we wrote earlier, not all devices are discoverable even when the Bluetooth module is active. The operating system used in this equipment has a significant impact on the operation of this technology.

Currently, the problem with identifying available devices is the most significant “curse” of Bluetooth technology. Some manufacturers, such as Samsung, modify the Bluetooth drivers and the settings menu to make access to them more understandable about regular Android.

Unfortunately, there are companies on the opposite side that prevent access to the Bluetooth menu. Here we are mainly talking about the manufacturers of cars and hands-free kits. While in the case of smartphones and computers, it is possible to learn how to use Bluetooth on several systems (Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS). Each car manufacturer uses an entirely different system, in which the Bluetooth functions are sometimes profoundly hidden.

The device was found but cannot connect.

Sometimes the device may be correctly detected but cannot connect. Unfortunately, there is no universal solution to this problem, but fortunately, it mainly affects older devices.

A smartphone or other device may be already connected to other equipment using Bluetooth (such as a smartwatch), and when trying to connect to a home theater, the Bluetooth will reject the call. This is because not all devices support multiple Bluetooth connections.

Earlier versions of the Android operating system (4.4 Kitkat inclusive) have problems if many entries are in the list of connected devices. In this case, it is best to remove devices that you are not using.

When transferring data from an old Android smartphone to a new one, paired devices can also be transferred. This solution rarely works as it should. After purchasing a new phone, we advise you to clear the list of paired Bluetooth devices and proceed with the reinstallation.

Sometimes a connection problem occurs due to the significant distance between the devices. Make sure the equipment is nearby.

Bluetooth connection drops after a while

Unfortunately, disconnection is still an issue, even in the latest smartphones. Bluetooth connectivity problems are a big problem for owners of fitness bracelets and smartwatches, which must be constantly connected to the phone throughout the day. In this case, the solution to the problem may be to remove unused equipment from the list of paired devices, but we have other, more effective solutions.

The new smartphones running Android have complex algorithms used to conserve battery power. Phone makers and Google have introduced aggressive process management. This leads to the fact that when the phone goes into sleep mode – the so-called Deep Sleep, the process responsible for the Bluetooth connection also “falls asleep” . As a result, the smartwatch informs us that there is no connection with the phone.

The solution to this problem is to disable power saving for fitness bracelets or smartwatch control apps. This can be done in the settings in the “Applications” section. The exact position of the parameter depends on the interface used. For Samsung Gear / Galaxy watches, you need to disable Economy Mode in Samsung Gear, Gear Plugin (optional – if displayed in the list), and Samsung Health.

Connectivity problems may also be responsible for launching power-saving modes in the smartwatch or fitness bracelet itself.

Pairing Wearable Devices Using Bluetooth

In the case of wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness bracelets, it is not necessary to connect the device via Bluetooth. To use the capabilities of this type of device, you must install the client application on the mobile device. In the case of Android watches, it’s Wear OS, Samsung smartwatches and wristbands use Samsung Gear, and Xiaomi devices use Mi Fit.

Pairing is done using the app and differs depending on the device used. All this is carefully described in the user manual of the device and the client application.

Is it possible to update via Bluetooth?

Yes, updating via Bluetooth is possible. Most often, this is how you can update devices that do not have Wi-Fi. We are talking about wearable devices, smartwatches, speakerphone sets, receivers, and smart speakers. In their case, the firmware is downloaded to the mobile device and transmitted via Bluetooth to the memory of the connected equipment.

Play audio on two Bluetooth devices

Bluetooth for an extended period did not allow maintaining a connection with two devices at the same time, much less the simultaneous transfer of data between all connected devices.

The situation has changed with the advent of the Bluetooth 4.0 standard. He introduced a dual-mode (Dual Mode), which allows you to transmit audio to two devices simultaneously. All three devices must support Bluetooth version 4.0, and the transmitting device must be additionally compatible with the Dual Mode function.

In this case, one of the connected devices uses Bluetooth Classic, while the other uses Bluetooth Low Energy.

The Dual Audio feature debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 +. Since its launch in early 2017, other phone models have appeared in stores with the ability to stream audio to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

Bluetooth problem on Windows

When using a PC, sometimes there is a problem with the activation of the Bluetooth module. In the system settings of Windows 10, there is an option to turn Bluetooth on and off, but it is purely software.

First, we recommend that you check the Bluetooth module in the Windows Device Manager. If it is not listed, restart your computer – the drivers may have been updated. When the Bluetooth module is still invisible after a reboot, it may have been disabled from the BIOS / UEFI level or a physical switch on the case (mostly older laptop models). If these solutions do not work, it is possible that your computer does not have a Bluetooth module or it has been damaged.

Updating the Bluetooth driver in Windows

Drivers on Windows 10 are automatically updated with Windows Update, but you can manually force the check for updates and install the latest driver. This is a helpful solution when, for some reason, after an update, the module stops working.

To update the drivers for the Bluetooth module, go to Device Manager → Bluetooth and select the Bluetooth device (for example, Intel Wireless Bluetooth). The next step is to go to the Driver tab and choose Update Driver. In the next step, you can choose to update online or specify the folder with the drivers.

If the Bluetooth module still causes problems after updating the drivers, you can remove the device using Device Manager and reinstall it. Doing this will reinstall the drivers.

The system does not recognize Bluetooth USB or PCI adapter

Most branded and branded Bluetooth adapters use a USB or PCI interface, for which Windows finds drivers themselves. Despite this, there are still Bluetooth adapters on the market for which Windows itself cannot find drivers.

In this case, go to Device Manager and select the item for local driver update. An unknown Bluetooth module is defined as an Unknown device. Drivers are usually included with the device. Alternatively, you can find them on the manufacturer’s support site on the Internet.

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