It started out as the little technology that could.
Today, more people than ever are using the short-range Bluetooth wireless mode of communication to swap files and talk on phones using headsets and earpieces.
Since the technology is essentially designed to replace cables, users rely on it to wirelessly print from their notebooks or handheld PCs and connect to other devices such as LCD projectors.
“It is encouraging to see that consumers not only have heard of Bluetooth technology, but they are also using it for more advanced applications,” said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), in a statement.
Bluetooth awareness increased the most in the U.S, where more than 50 percent of the consumers who took part in a 2005 survey at least recognized the brand name and the technology.
This compares to a roughly 22 percent recognition level during the first such study conducted in 2003 and up to a 62 percent awareness level of Wi-Fi, the study showed.
The countries with highest recognition for Bluetooth include the UK and Germany (averaging about 88 percent), and Taiwan and Japan (about 67 percent), the study revealed.
More than two-thirds of those polled in Taiwan own at least one Bluetooth-enabled device. And Japanese consumers are the most willing to pay a few yen more for a Bluetooth device, even though there are comparatively few such devices in that country.
Worldwide, awareness for Bluetooth jumped from 60 percent in 2004 to 73 percent last year, the study revealed.
Bluetooth SIG commissioned the study, which polled consumers between the ages of 18 and 70 in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Taiwan.
Bluetooth emerged in 1998 with the formation of the Bluetooth SIG and release of an initial specification the following year.
Adoption of the technology was slow at first, but quickly picked up, as more vendors incorporated the low-power, short-range technology into small devices.
Today, there are about 852 products from 358 different companies that use Bluetooth technology, said the trade group, adding there are more than 9.5 million Bluetooth products shipping each week.
Recently, the Bluetooth group announced plans to develop a higher-speed and more bandwidth-capable version of the technology that would be able to synchronize and transfer large chunks of data for video and audio applications.
As part of this effort, the group will adopt an ultra-wide band (UWB) technology version supported by the WiMedia Alliance, another industry association.
“Our goal in 2006,” said Bluetooth SIG’s Foley, “is to increase the understanding that Bluetooth technology enables far more than wireless headsets and mobile phones, though those will remain favorites.”