Originally Published MDDI February 2002
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Bluetooth wireless technology is royalty free for Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) members, but there is a hitch: products offered for sale must complete the appropriate testing and have their test results reviewed and approved by a Bluetooth qualification body. The Bluetooth name explicitly implies interoperability and can be used only on qualified products, which is meant to be a benefit for manufacturers, integrators, and end customers. If the Bluetooth intellectual property were sold without qualification, the license would not be in effect and the offending company would be infringing on certain patents. (In addition, Bluetooth is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG Inc.)
While the complete Bluetooth testing process can be quite long and expensive for a fully custom implementation and is complicated even for products incorporating module or stack components, several test houses provide such services as well as other compliance testing both in the United States and abroad.
Qualified components carry their level of approval with them and do not require retesting. This means that if an approved module incorporating the RF and baseband sections is used, those portions of the approval obtained by the supplying company automatically apply to the product into which the module is incorporated. Only additional stack or profile work above that purchased would require testing.
When product-level Bluetooth devices are used in other products, such as an approved PCMCIA card and its associated Windows software, no additional approvals are required if the new product is to be sold to an end customer; the integrating company need not even join the SIG (it is free, but it requires a legal commitment to the free license for the Bluetooth intellectual property). In another example, if a company were to use a device like the serial port adapter from ConnectBlue (Malmo, Sweden) in a product, the end product would immediately carry the complete Bluetooth approvals; the company would be able to use the Bluetooth name and ship compliant products immediately.
|Products approved to the 1.1 specification.|
Shown below is a graph of the products approved to the current Bluetooth 1.1 specification (the author recommends only use of 1.1 components and products). It shows the types of products approved as of this writing. Products represent such end-user devices as phones, printers, and medical devices (only one has been approved to date). The HW and SW components are chips and modules, and stacks not intended for end customer use. Development tools are usually kits and (along with demo products) are intended to provide a demonstration of the technology or of a supplier's implementation of the technology.
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