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Bluetooth Plans To Make Life Easier For Wireless Communications

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — In the 10th century, King Harald Bluetooth unified Denmark. His name is now the newest buzz in wireless communications.

Bluetooth is an industry standard that wirelessly connects cell phones and other devices over distances of about 30 feet. Acell phone from Ericssonwill be the first model to be Bluetooth-equipped.

"Tomorrow with Bluetooth, you don't need the wire. You'll just have the ear piece," says IBM representative Jon Prial. "It'll do all the telephoning for me."

Bluetooth-equipped laptop computers allow users to work without wires. Information can be transferred, or synchronized, from a laptop or workpad to perform a variety of tasks. Bluetooth transceiver chips will soon be built into all kinds of electronic devices.

"Walking past a kiosk in a shopping mall and you're got a Bluetooth device, it'll recognize you and perhaps even give you a sale flyer for the store down the hall," Prial says.

More than 2,000 companies are working on Bluetooth-enabled hardware and software. Analysts predict Bluetooth-equipped devices will be shipped by next year.