Science & Technology in Action

2nd Edition

Modern Product Design and Manufacture


This lesson introduces the concept of wireless communication and outlines how it is used in wireless networks. The lesson describes the stages involved in the development of a wireless product from concept to release into the marketplace.
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Lesson excerpt

This lesson reviews the impact of wireless communication and outlines the steps involved in the modern design and manufacture of a Bluetooth module for use in notebook computers and mobile phones. Bluetooth® is a global standard short-range wireless technology that is ideally suited for peripheral and ad-hoc mobile device connectivity. How is this used in every day life?

Lifestyle revolution
Notebook computers, wireless networks and mobile phones have revolutionised communications; they enable people to access email, answer calls and generally stay in touch with work colleagues and friends while on the move. The offi ce has become virtual; work can be done at home, in a cafe or at the airport terminal. Work has become an activity and is not necessarily associated with a place. Bluetooth technology presents further possibilities. For example, a Bluetooth earpiece or headset offers the convenience of hands-free answering of mobile phones. Using Bluetooth, a digital camera can connect wirelessly to a computer, a printer or a PDA; the communicating devices do not need to be part of a local area network. This direct, point-to-point communication can be used with keyboards, mice, printers and other peripherals; this makes for a less cluttered workspace.

Wireless protocols
There are agreed sets of rules or protocols that specify the structure of wireless signals for use in digital communication. These govern such things as how the data may be divided into smaller parts (called packets), the permitted radio frequencies and signal strengths, and the structure of the information about the sources and destinations of messages.

Around 1990, a system known as WiFi or wireless LAN was introduced. This is intended specifically for office computer networks and is effective up to about 30 m. The output power of a typical wireless LAN router is about one watt.

Around 2000, another wireless protocol known as Bluetooth was introduced. There are three classes of Bluetooth and they are distinguished by their output powers and effective ranges. The highest permitted power (Class 1) is 100 mW and has a range of about 100 m. By comparison, a typical mobile phone operates at 400 mW (0.4 W).

True or False?

  1. Oersted discovered that magnetism could be used to produce an electric current. false
  2. People could speak to one another using the electric telegraph in the mid-19th century. false
  3. Wireless waves were first demonstrated by Heinrich Hertz. true
  4. WiFi was first used soon after computers were invented. false
  5. Bluetooth is a WiFi system. false
  6. Mobile phones can communicate with each other using Bluetooth. true
  7. Industrial design and manufacture is a single process. false
  8. White-boarding means producing a complete design. false
  9. The volume of sales is estimated in the Concept phase. true
  10. Documentation is prepared in the Deployment phase. false
  11. Bluetooth devices use an agreed communication protocol. true
  12. Mobile phones detect sound waves. false
  13. Digital communication protocols are necessary because people speak different languages. false