Bluetooth has turned out to be the "little engine that could" of wireless technology. Most folks in the wireless industry considered it an example of what happens to a technology that is overhyped. It was credited with too many capabilities too early and almost died off before it could find any winning applications. Defying expectations, though, Bluetooth did manage to find some successful niches. More than five years later, the technology continues to evolve to successfully meet the needs of emerging wireless applications.

At the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment show this past September in San Francisco, CA, for example, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group or SIG (www.bluetooth.com) spotlighted new uses for the standard. To garner attention for the technology's upcoming low-energy and high-speed specifications, the SIG displayed the Bluetoothbranded Lamborghini Diablo Roadster. It also gave demonstrations of new Bluetooth products built with the current version of the technology, 2.1 + EDR, which features simplified pairing.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, devices that house Bluetooth's low-energy technology will consume a fraction of the power of previous Bluetooth-enabled products. In many cases, the new products are expected to operate for more than a year on a tiny button-cell battery without recharging. Bluetooth's low-energy technology is expected to enable personal sensors in sports, fitness, and medical devices. For example, Bluetooth capability will enable pedomoters, heart-rate monitors, and blood-pressure sensors to track and send any measurable information wirelessly to laptops, phones, or watches.

In addition, the Bluetooth SIG recently moved Bluetooth high-speed technology into its highly regimented testing program. The high-speed technology is set to run over IEEE 802.11x or Ultra Wideband (UWB) protocols. Bluetooth high-speed technology is predicted to enable wireless video streams, large data transfers, and bulk synchronization of applications between trusted devices. Clearly, the wireless personal-area network (PAN) will soon include a complete wireless-entertainment solution.

Looking at Bluetooth's spotted history, one can see why the industry should not judge a standard's capabilities too early. Feeding off its success in niches like wireless headsets for cell phones, the technology was able to rally. Thanks to the excellent guidance of the Bluetooth SIG, the standard has evolved and keeps evolving to meet future applications. In doing so, it provides hope for individuals trying to get new standards off the ground as well as for people in general. The underdog story is one in which we should always believe. Be it a beleaguered standard, a nation facing tough economic times, or a stock market in upheaval, a rally is always possible.