Bluetooth® earbuds are a means of wirelessly transmitting sound from a device like a phone or a portable music player directly to the ear. The earbuds themselves are like headphones in that they fit directly into the ear, but unlike traditional headphones, they are not connected to one another, and operate completely wirelessly. The earbuds transmit and pick up voice and data signals with the use of Bluetooth® technology. Bluetooth® earbuds are commonly used with Bluetooth®-enabled music players and cell phones, allowing users to listen to music and take calls without touching any device.
Having become popular in the early 2000s, Bluetooth® technology operates as a short-range wireless network, connecting technological devices like phones, music players, computers, and printers. Devices that are close to each other in space can “speak” to one another over a Bluetooth® connection. Bluetooth® has taken off particularly well when used in music player and cell phone accessories.
The technology is commonly used in hands-free cell phone products. With Bluetooth® wireless earpieces, a person can answer calls and have phone conversations by speaking into the earpiece, thus leaving the phone alone. In jurisdictions that have outlawed holding cell phones while driving, Bluetooth® technology is increasingly popular. Bluetooth® earbuds can serve this purpose.
Bluetooth® earbuds are usually slightly bigger than the earbud headphones that are typically used with music players or are purchased as a stereo accessory. This is because each Bluetooth® earbud contains within it a transmitter and a receiver for Bluetooth® signals. The earbuds are designed to fit comfortably within the ear, but should never be inserted so far into the ear that they enter the ear canal. Many Bluetooth® earbuds come with optional ear “loops” to keep the buds in place if they are not a natural fit for the user’s ears.
In order for the earbuds to effectively pick up a Bluetooth® signal, they must be in close proximity to the device transmitting that signal. The earbuds can play music from a music player located in a person’s pocket, for instance, and they can pick up calls from a phone located in a briefcase or in a backseat of a car. Most Bluetooth® technologies have a limited radius of signal strength.
Networks created by Bluetooth®-ready devices are typically very secure. Unlike a wireless internet connection that is designed to be open and allow use by multiple devices, a Bluetooth® network is a unique channel of communication for two synced devices. It generally cannot be intercepted, even by other Bluetooth® devices in close proximity. This is not to say that a host device cannot support more than one Bluetooth® connection at a time: so long as all devices are synced to the host, a network can be shared among selected devices. Bluetooth® earbuds could simultaneously share a connection to a several cell phones and a music player, for instance.
Many Bluetooth® earbud manufacturers tout their products as promoting a superior listening experience, and promise that the earbuds will deliver a higher quality of sound that is available from other earbuds or headsets. While some of these claims may be true, their veracity is not related to the Bluetooth® technology at play. Bluetooth® is simply a means of connecting devices; if a signal is weak or a connection poor, nothing about the use of Bluetooth® can fix it.