2055: Bluetooth

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Bluetooth is actually named for the tenth-century Viking king Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson, but the protocol developed by Harald was a wireless charging standard unrelated to the modern Bluetooth except by name.
Title text: Bluetooth is actually named for the tenth-century Viking king Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson, but the protocol developed by Harald was a wireless charging standard unrelated to the modern Bluetooth except by name.


Bluetooth is a technology invented in the mid 1990s and intended for devices to connect wirelessly over a relatively short range for the purpose of transmitting information and/or audio. For example, a headset that connects via Bluetooth could be connected to a computer that's also Bluetooth-enabled, and then whatever would normally come out of the computer's speakers would come out the headset's ear pieces instead, and whatever was spoken into the headset's microphone would be transmitted to the computer's audio input system as if coming in through the computer's microphone. For this to work, the two devices need to be paired, which means they need to know the unique identification number of the other device and have been given permission to communicate with it, as well as knowing what kind of data exchanges are both possible and allowed. Pairing is not always a smooth process, especially given the somewhat limited methods some of these devices have for user interaction. For example, headsets typically don't have screens and user interfaces that make it easy to select what computer or other device you want them to connect to, so you're often confronted by blinking lights and/or sounds to make it through the pairing process, with each device having its own method for initiating or accepting a pairing request.

Cueball is talking to White Hat about Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. He asks if it has become easier to stream audio via Bluetooth since he last used it. White Hat then jests that it has become an easy-to-use and streamlined service, where connecting devices is easy, and he gives some examples of how easy it is to use. Cueball is excited about this, until White Hat reveals that he was lying and that Bluetooth is still as hard to use as ever. Cueball then invokes the name of "Josiah Bluetooth", a fictitious person implied to have invented the eponymous Bluetooth. "Josiah" is an old-timey name and suggests the amusing idea that in the 1700s or 1800s a hardy inventor named Josiah Bluetooth came up with the idea for wireless audio. (Note that while there is no "Josiah Bluetooth" person, there is a "Josiah" Bluetooth ceramic speaker.)

This comic also references the common problem of audio playing through the wrong device when Bluetooth is activated.

The title text is another misdirection joke because while the first part of the sentence is true (Bluetooth was indeed named after a tenth-century Viking king), it goes on to make the silly claim that King Harald himself developed a wireless charging standard. This is a reference to the Qi wireless power transfer standard that, like Bluetooth, is a well-branded industry standard with a catchy name and wide adoption that also does not work quite as well as promised even 10 years after its first release. (It could also be a reference to Medieval Vikings charging into battle, which is, by most accounts, usually a fairly wireless affair (assuming one discounts chainmail armor). In this case, the standard could be a pun as a standard also denotes a royal or military flag.)

Specifically, the Viking king referenced in the title text, Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson, usually called Harald Bluetooth, was a ruler of Denmark and Norway who died in 985 or 986. Jim Kardach of Intel named the Bluetooth protocol after him, apparently as he united the various Norse tribes of Denmark into a single kingdom just as Bluetooth unites communication protocols. The Bluetooth logo unites the two Norse runes corresponding to "H" and "B" for Harald Bluetooth.


[Cueball and White Hat are talking, Cueball is holding a cell phone and wireless headphones.]
Cueball: I haven’t used a wireless/bluetooth thingy in like ten years. Is audio stuff still a nightmare?
White Hat: Nah, it’s great now.
[Zoom in on White Hat, Cueball is off-screen.]
White Hat: You tap devices together twice to link them and they flash in sync. (It pairs using accelerometer timing and sound.) Tap them three times to disconnect.
White Hat: You can pair multiple inputs and outputs and it handles it smoothly.
Cueball (off screen): Nice!
White Hat: It just works. Sound comes from where you expect.
Cueball (off screen): Wonderful.
[Zoom out to White Hat and Cueball facing each other.]
White Hat: Haha, just kidding, it’s a nightmare.
Cueball: Noooooo!
White Hat: When I connect to my car, music starts blasting from my headphones while the car repeatedly plays a “New connection!” chime.
Cueball: This is not what Josiah Bluetooth intended!


Though it has been around since 2001, Bluetooth has been a well known technology for use with wireless speakers and headphones since smartphones became popular in the early 2010s.

Bluetooth was the subject of particularly wide public attention in 2016 when Apple announced the removal of the 3.5 mm headphone jack in their then-latest smartphone, the iPhone 7. Apple believes the future of audio lies in Bluetooth earphones, but some others argue that the technology is not advanced enough to replace wired earphones. The debate continues as other companies have followed suit in removing headphone jacks in favor of Bluetooth devices.

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Wireless charging standard may be a pun on the word "charging." Vikings were certainly known for "charging" into battle, and so Harald may indeed have invented a "wireless charging standard" or a standardized way for his Vikings to enter a battle. If so, it was unlikely to have used wires. -- Tomkonrad (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

That's just what I was thinking! Asimong (talk) 07:38, 9 October 2018 (UTC)
Or maybe it's a "wireless charging _standard_" i.e. a flag signal which says "CHAAAARGE!!!!". The term "standard" would be somewhat off and anachronistic, though, but the general idea of giving a kind of visual signal to tell the troops to charge seems legit, imho. Albeit, in that time those signals were most commonly acoustic rather than visual. But I like the idea of playing with the word "standard" besides the word "charge" Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:47, 8 October 2018 (UTC)

Uh, I don't know anything really about Bluetooth, but do they really use accelerometer timing? That doesn't sound right... 17:34, 5 October 2018 (UTC)SiliconWolf

If you read it again, you should notice that WhiteHat admits that he's lying. Bluetooth doesn't pair that way. He was joking. ProphetZarquon (talk) 19:05, 5 October 2018 (UTC)
Some of them do pair this way...sort of, their accelerometers tell them they've been picked up and get ready for close range communication (like a couple inches) that exchange information for their bluetooth settings162.158.75.190 19:47, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

My headphones use NFC to connect to my phone, I just have to hold the two devices together and they connect! Except they don't, in 90% of cases it doesn't react or I have to move it around a lot. But at least I can just turn the headphones and bluetooth on my phone on and they connect! Unless I have used the headphones for a different device previously, then I need to manually initiate the connection on my phone. Or just randomly when it isn't in a connection-making mood right now. But at least they work on all devices with Bluetooth! Except on my old laptop and my desktop PC (with bluetooth dongle), there it either has a horrible audio quality or completely freezes the system. But at least… No. Fabian42 (talk) 17:37, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

My tablet connects to any Bluetooth audio device, no problem; as long as I make it "Forget" every other device in its pairing list first, otherwise it tries to pair to a device which isn't even around. Also, my Mom's car doesn't have GPS navigation or 4G LTE service, but it doesn't seem to have a way to turn off Bluetooth, 4G, or the OnStar system, either. Also, her friend uses a set of Bluetooth speakers to play audio from her Mac, but you can only connect one speaker at a time unless you run a proprietary app which doesn't work very well. Also, neither my phone nor my tablet will transfer any file larger than 1MB by Bluetooth, since a couple system updates over a year ago (Oh, & only a few file types, too). Also, the audio delay when watching videos with Bluetooth audio is so pronounced I have to use a media player with manual A\V synch controls. Also, controlling a "smart TV" by Bluetooth doesn't work anymore for some reason, unless I install a specific app for each TV brand; Infrared still works fine. Also, I've still never had a Bluetooth headset that continues to work when the playback device is in my pocket & I take a step forward. Also, there's a Bluetooth HCI log file stored in my internal memory which gradually grows to hundreds of megs even though I don't have the setting for that log turned on. Also, whenever I turn Location on, or even exit Airplane mode, Bluetooth, WiFi, & NFC all activate briefly, even though I keep them turned off as much as possible; The icons don't light up, but my other devices show the polling attempts in their logs. I got suspicious enough to do a diagnostic & some scans, but aside from the usual usage-tracking from Google, there doesn't seem to be any spyware or malware installed. Bluetooth is awful. ProphetZarquon (talk) 19:05, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

I miss the jokes in the incomplete discussion banner. Is there really not enough room for both a quip and the instructions? -- 21:16, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

Josiah Bluetooth -boB (talk) 21:25, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

I tried to share link over bluetooth to three people. For one, it worked completely flawlessly. Second one got the file but then it got lost somehow and was unable to use the content. Third one ... the phones didn't even see each other. -- Hkmaly (talk) 23:20, 5 October 2018 (UTC)

This car comes with Bluetooth compatibility. What's Bluetooth? Bluetooth is Bluetooth? What is it? BlUuUuUeEeEeToOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoth 13:24, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

I’ve actually had a relatively positive experience with Bluetooth lately, at least compared to how it used to be. These days it’s actually useable, airpods work great to pair easily with other apple devices (usually).

Also where my old car couldn’t be connected to Bluetooth unless you wanted a deafening sound to blare whenever you got a call, and it couldn’t be used to play music, my new car’s media system works pretty well with Bluetooth music, the only annoyance being that when the car is set to a different audio source the phone still tries to route audio to it through Bluetooth, so there is silence when you expect sound from the phone, until you manually change it back to output through its internal speakers.

Bluetooth is still far from perfect, but it’s actually useable now, a huge leap from a few years ago. PotatoGod (talk) 16:38, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

Follow up a year and a half later:

Nope, Bluetooth routing still sucks in complex situations: when in a phone call over Bluetooth headphones, if I open my car's door to get something out of it (or someone else in my family does so in the garage while I'm in another room), and suddenly my phone call is routed through the car's speakers instead of my headphones, then I have to frantically switch the phone's output back to the headphones and apologize for needing to ask the person on the other end to repeat the last ten seconds of what they said. Happens every time, except sometimes it will go to speakerphone or the phone's internal speakers instead of the when the door is closed again.

Summary: Bluetooth is great at getting sound from point A to point B, and within an ecosystem (ie Airpods with Apple devices). Outside of those situations, it's a random lottery how it'll behave. PotatoGod (talk) 02:00, 10 January 2020 (UTC)

It's still hit and miss a lot of times, depending on the devices in question. My friend's car has Bluetooth, and when it worked it worked great. But then every once in a while it would stop working, he'd ask me as his tech friend to try to get it working, and I couldn't... and then he had to take it to the car dealership to get it working. -boB (talk) 20:45, 6 October 2018 (UTC)

I think the "Josiah" is a reference to "Josiah Wedgwood," a famous English entrepreneur and potter. Should this be added? -- (talk) 00:39, 7 October 2018 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

If you think it is a reference, without more, then no it should not be added. If you want to post here what the reasons are (why do you think so?), then we can evaluate them and recommend. But without more, no. Certainly a casual review of Josiah Wedgwood doesn't give any obvious reasons to connect him with "Josiah Bluetooth." p.s.: please sign your posts (with ~~~~). JohnHawkinson (talk) 02:04, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

Years ago I bought a Linux-compatible USB Bluetooth dongle. It had several pages of detailed and complex instructions for Windows and Mac, indicating the exact order of operations - if one connected the device before installing drivers and rebooting, for instance, one would have to dig deep into the OS and remove various automatically-installed components - but I couldn't find any instructions for Linux. Finally I found them - it was one line, "Plug the dongle in". Worked perfectly.

On the other hand, my very good headphones, which have the wireless connection on the right ear, still lose connection to my laptop if I turn my head to the right... Cosmogoblin (talk) 12:00, 7 October 2018 (UTC)

The link between "Josiah" and "Josiah Wedgwood" is probably correct. One of the styles that Josiah Wedgwood is famous for is a blue and white design. A quick Internet search gives lots of examples. This is probably the reason that the ceramic Bluetooth speaker mentioned in the explanation text is named "Josiah". They're both making reference to Josiah Wedgwood and his blue and white pottery.Hjmillman (talk) 12:29, 8 October 2018 (UTC)

Yes, sorry I didn't mention his pottery style in the original comment. Wedgwood was famous for doing a lot of R&D to develop a style of pottery that replicated Chinese porcelain with blue/white patterns. The 'Josiah' referenced in the comic is probably a reference to Wedgwood. 23:58, 8 October 2018 (UTC) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I must agree with JohnHawkinson, that doesn't sound like enough of a link. It sounds like stretching a LOT. I feel it actually probably ISN'T a reference to him. Josiah is just a very old fashioned sounding name, sorry. And as John mentioned, please sign your posts with ~~~~. :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:07, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

I have great trouble believing the statement that Bluetooth was designed for transfer of information "and audio". I suspect the reality is simply that several audio applications have been found (speakers, headphones, handsfree devices for cars...). The audio is the information in those applications, not that audio transfer was part of the original intent of Bluetooth. NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:12, 12 October 2018 (UTC)

I've found it just works on linux, with the exception of a) HFP/HFC, which has poor sound quality, and b) conflicts from the hellscape of the windows bluetooth stack. It's actually why I switched originally, linux has good a2dp sink behavior (can act as headphones and recieve sound from say a phone), windows has none whatsoever. More recently, I decided to use a wii remote as a mouse. The bluetooth connection was already installed and configured, just needed the x driver. Yes. It literally "just works" with f****** WII REMOTES 06:21, 27 August 2020 (UTC)

Noone mentions, that white hat uses brackets while speaking? --Lupo (talk) 15:48, 7 November 2019 (UTC)