Detroit, MI —Harald Blåtand would be shocked. He figured his legacy to be the unification of Nordic countries. Back in the 10th century, the Danish king's domain stretched as far as the eye could see, beyond snow-covered peaks and raging north seas. One thousand years later, his kingdom has been relegated to a puny ten meters. Its influence, however, will impact infinitely more people than the Viking conquerors ever dreamed.
That's because Scandinavia-based Ericsson, the telecommunications giant, has made the king's name–Blåtand, or "Bluetooth"— synonymous with wireless communication designed to unify disparate electronic devices. Embedded chips, communicating via short-range (10m) radio links, form the basis for Bluetooth technology.
It is no surprise, therefore, that Bluetooth was a hot topic of discussion at last autumn's Convergence 2000, the International Congress on Transportation Electronics held in Detroit. Since automobiles contain more embedded solutions than any other consumer product—50 per car, on average—they make a very good platform for Bluetooth technology.
Visteon Corp. for one, announced a collaboration with Lucent Technologies Microelectronics Group. The goal: Develop Bluetooth for hands-free use of cell phones, personal digital assistants, and beepers. The idea: Drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands upon the wheel.
Bluetooth and voice recognition technologies back up the Johnson Controls Blue Connect system.
Likewise, Johnson Controls demonstrated a system they call Blue Connect. Compatible with existing technology already in the vehicle, and easily integrated into an automobile without altering its electrical architecture, Blue Connect uses voice recognition for hands-free communication. Embedded chips link the cell phone's audio channel to a microphone and speaker clipped to the visor.
These companies and others further predict the Bluetooth technology will allow information to be shared with such devices located outside the vehicle—for example, data transmitted from a home computer to a car parked in the garage. New chipsets that extend Bluetooth's range, such as Texas Instruments' BSN6030 ROM-based Bluetooth baseband controller and TRF 6001 Bluetooth RF transceiver chip, will make this happen.
Measuring just 0.24 × 0.24 inch, the controller increases performance yet saves cost by eliminating external memory requirements. In addition, it connects seamlessly to a broad range of host processors that power many of today's digital wireless handsets, Internet audio players, digital still cameras, and broadband processors.
The transceiver chip, with a 0.20 × 0.20 inch footprint, offers sensitivity reception 16 dB better than the current Bluetooth specification. As a result, TI's Bluetooth solution gives six times the range of a standard implementation. This means applications operate more reliably at longer distances despite interference from intervening objects and competing signals.
Today, more than 2,000 companies make up the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. Many end-user companies, like Visteon and Johnson Controls, are key members of the Bluetooth Automotive Expert Group, currently working on guidelines and recommendations to the Bluetooth SIG Car Profile Working Group. Expect to hear more about Bluetooth automotive applications soon.
For more information about Bluetooth technology visit bluetooth.ericsson.com; www.lucent.com; www.visteon.com; www.ti.com; www.johnsoncontrols.com; or www.convergence2000.org.