A warehouse associate uses wearable technology to collect data from shelved items
By Tom Bianculli | May 7, 2024

Will There Ever Be a Communication Technology Standard with More Staying Power Than Bluetooth?

Bluetooth has become ubiquitous over the last 20 years. (30 billion devices using Bluetooth.) But can it really get even more widely deployed (or better) than it is today? Inventor Jaap Haartsen has some interesting thoughts on what may happen in the next 20 years. Check it out.

Do you know how Bluetooth came to be one of the most impactful technology standards in the last 50 years? Or why it was even developed in the first place? 

I do…now. I also know:

  • how Bluetooth (sort of accidentally) got its name.

  • who was really responsible for the technology and eventual standard’s development. 

  • why no other technology has displaced it yet (and maybe never will).

  • the impact that it will most likely have on our lives for the next 20+ years.

That’s because I had the privilege of sitting down with Jaap Haartsen for a heart-to-heart of sorts about Bluetooth’s past, present and future. Admittedly, it turned into a bit of a love fest around Bluetooth because I spent a lot of time gushing about how much this technology completely changed our lives – and the course of our business here at Zebra. 

I remember when we first started integrating Bluetooth technology into Zebra scanners way back in 2001. We knew it was going to give us so many opportunities to support front-line workers in particular because we were going to give different devices a way to talk to one another and share information. However, I had no idea how big Bluetooth would become – how important it would become – and come to find out, neither did Jaap or his colleagues.  

They didn’t create Bluetooth technology to start a technology revolution (even though that’s what happened). They were just trying to make some mobile devices a little more appealing to their employer’s target market. It was intended to be a feature of sorts – a way to create a personal area network for some select devices – not this global standard that would completely change the way we share music, photos, videos and data for the next 20+ years. 

In fact, Jaap is still amazed by the magnitude of Bluetooth’s evolution and impact on the world today. 

No matter who you are, what you do for a living, or what your digital expertise is, you probably use Bluetooth technology every day in some way. So, I think you’ll be fascinated by its origin story, how it came to be so central to your life, and how it may one day help you extend your life – or at least improve the quality of your life. Watch this:

If you prefer to download and listen later, you can do so below or read the transcript here.

What (and Who) is Behind Bluetooth's Staying Power?

Editor’s Note:

Want to know more about how Bluetooth was born? (The technology, not the Viking king.) Check out this post from Ericsson with a little more of the origin story from its team’s perspective:

Bluetooth: Born in our backyard, raised by the world

And keep scrolling to see Zebra’s first Bluetooth wearable scanner…

First Zebra BT Scanner - Scan Face
First Zebra BT Scanner - front
First Zebra BT Scanner - back
Podcast, Podcast, Interview, Digitizing Workflows, New Ways of Working, Warehouse and Distribution, Retail, Next in Wireless, Inside Zebra Nation, Handheld Mobile Computers, Printing Solutions, Software Tools, Tablets, Wearables,
Tom Bianculli
Tom Bianculli

Tom Bianculli serves as the Chief Technology Officer of Zebra Technologies. In this role, he is responsible for the exploration of emerging opportunities, coordinating with product teams on advanced product development and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. The Chief Technology Office is comprised of engineering, business, customer research and design functions. 

Tom began his career in the tech industry at Symbol Technologies, Inc. (later acquired by Motorola) in 1994 as part of the data capture solutions business. In the following years, he held positions of increased responsibility including architectural and director of engineering roles. 

Tom has been granted over 20 U.S. patents and is a Zebra Distinguished Innovator and Science Advisory Board associate. He was recently named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Technology 2021 by Technology Magazine.

Tom holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees in electrical engineering from Polytechnic University, NYU and serves on the board of directors for the School of Engineering at the New York Institute of Technology.

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