Time to sing the blues!

17th July 2016
Time to sing the blues!
Fifties screen goddess Hedy Lamarr, co-invented technology that underpins modern tele communications -- including Bluetooth

New release,  Bluetooth  5.0, will quadruple range and double the  speed of wireless connections
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, July 18 2016: In an Olympian year, we inevitably recall that ancient motto: Citius, Altius,  Fortius --  Faster, Higher, Stronger. Nice target to set on the sports field. But in the telecom maidan,  the fastest  is not always  first.  Practical WiFi speeds  have crossed 100 Megabits per second  and the range can extend over dozens of metres.   But guess which wireless  technology beats WiFi in any race for maximum users:  the humbler, slower, low-range technology  known as Bluetooth. 
Since its creation 22 years ago,  it  has become the most ubiquitous among technologies to wirelessly  send data back and  forth --   8 billion of devices from mobile phones to   audio accessories to shoes and socks are Bluetooth-enabled.  Today it  is the  global wireless standard that fuels another  technology of the future -- the Internet of Things. This it did by cannily reinventing itself in a new  low energy avatar --Bluetooth Smart. Developers are creating  tiny sensors  that can run for a year or more off  coin-sized batteries  which get recharged  by the sun -- or just by the kinetic energy generated when the wearer walks.
Last month saw the  announcement of  an update to the   standard -- Bluetooth 5 -- which  will   enable four times the range and double  the data speed  of the current version -- without demanding more power.    Now,  your Bluetooth enabled-phone or  speaker  will work beyond the walls of  home or office.    Already you can turn lights, cookers or TV on and off, open doors,  monitor your heart rate  -- with a simple one-press pairing of Bluetooth devices.  Soon we will see  such applications widen when  a network of devices, called a Piconet,  is connected by Bluetooth, much as WiFi  works  today.  Expect Bluetooth 5.0 to reach products  at year end or early in 2017
Hedy Lamarr must be chuckling  in her grave. Hedy who? The  sultry Hollywood screen goddess of the 1940s and 50s is,  believe it or not,   is the original source of two key technologies  that fuel Bluetooth.  When not busy   giving Victor Mature  a haircut  in  the biblical epic,  'Samson and Delilah', Hedy  won the  original patent for spread spectrum and frequency hopping:   two key telecom techniques.  It took decades for the scientific establishment  to acknowledge that a cinemactress  could have brains.  besides beauty.  But   half century on, Bluetooth is living breathing evidence that it is indeed so.