Two wireless technologies have helped shape the modern world: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The former is best characterized by the Borg-like headsets for hands-free use, and more commonly now, in-vehicle communication. I use Bluetooth headphones at the gym to eliminate any cords which could get in my way. My phone pairs to the car anytime I drive, routing music, Siri, and calls to the stereo system. Bluetooth is awesome for so many reasons. It’s very low energy; your tiny headset can stay on for days before needing a recharge. It is easy; enter range of a paired device and they connect immediately. And with the newest version, known as Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), you can sync fitness devices that keep charge for months or years at a time.
However, Bluetooth has a number of weaknesses that keep it from being the sole wireless tech. It is relatively short-range, about 30 feet on average. It’s also slow, as in 10% or less of your typical LTE or Wi-Fi connection. Plus, it is a peer-to-peer system, meaning you don’t normally have a router handling multiple clients…it’s one to one.
Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is absolutely perfect for high-speed communication. It’s very fast (and new standards are pushing those boundaries even further), covers about 150 feet from a router, handles multiple devices on a single connection, can have good security, and is easy to set up for anyone. The modern wireless world has Wi-Fi to thank for its rapid adoption and growth. Conveniently, its weaknesses are the exact opposite of Bluetooth. Though fast, it is very power-hungry, making it unacceptable for use in low-power devices. For this reason, we have Bluetooth.
Did you know that both technologies operate at nearly the same wavelength? (Yes, I know, there are 5Ghz wireless systems, like my own, but public systems use the most compatible, which is still 2.4Ghz.)
Two different ends from a similar starting point. So what are you? Does your personality match the low-key, reliable, and conservative behavior of Bluetooth, or are you the high-energy, quick-moving, and always-networking Wi-Fi?
Just like our computers, it’s good to have a bit of both. The Bluetooth ensures my headsets, fitness monitor, and small file transfers work consistently. The Wi-Fi keeps me connected…researching, browsing, and enjoying all that our 50Mbps connection has to offer, from anywhere in the office or home (or even public locales). Without one, I’d be missing something.
Me? I’m also both of these systems…Bluetooth if you put me in a new situation; low-key and true to existing connections. However, get me going about the latest Doctor Who series or a new tech announcement, and I’m your Wi-Fi, talking, mingling, and excitedly moving about.
Ideally, your CU should be gathering strategies from both these types. Find your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi people, and embrace the best they each have to offer! Just cover the blinking blue light…that’s annoying.