Tiny Bluetooth Dongles Set Me Free

Without the USB connector this device wouldn’t be much bigger than a multivitamin.

I bought a set of Bluetooth headphones to use with my laptop and iPhone when traveling. No cord seems the way to go. I’ll write more about the headphones themselves when I get them charged and running.

Meanwhile, the headphones were $29.99 alone or $29.98 with a USB Bluetooth adapter. Duh! Today the vendor has seen the error of their ways and added free shipping to the ‘more expensive’ package.

usb bluetooth dongle.jpgIt’s the USB Bluetooth adapter I want to briefly talk about. That’s what’s in the photo on the left.

As small as it looks, and it is tiny, the metallic part is just the connector. It’s mainly hollow. The electronic guts are all inside the black piece!

That minuscule sliver of plastic contains a radio transceiver, antenna, diplexer, and the computing power to run the show! It separates and sends multiple datastreams, audio, signaling and control.

Are you kidding me? That’s crazy.

So often our perception of the miniaturization of electronics is based on the packages we see, but they are often artificially large because we control them with our fingers. Too small and they’re useless!

Without the USB connector this device wouldn’t be much bigger than a multivitamin.

This little dongle isn’t doing much more than replacing a wire and plug and freeing the headphone wearer to move around a little. The big deal is it’s cheap enough to make replacing that wire no big deal.

Expect to see more (or actually see less, but experience more) of this miniaturization making electronic control practical in smaller and cheaper devices–places where we historically don’t expect them.

We live in truly amazing times.

2 thoughts on “Tiny Bluetooth Dongles Set Me Free”

  1. My father was a physicist by trade, Geoff, and even he was astounded at how fast the “glass ceilings” of electronics were broken with smaller and faster computer processors and electronic devices during the very late 1990s and early this century (he passed away in 2004). I look at the advances in the technology since then and the startling examples in your picture and wonder how close we REALLY are to the reality of nanotechnology.

  2. I think about my dad everytime I buy a new piece of technology. He was a programmer who died in the late 90s right as hardware and software really took a huge leap. My college network is a 100 mbit per second LAN where 5 gig HD movies are exchanged in minutes. In 93 I remember him connecting to the FAU server from home on a 2400 baud (14.4 k) phone line modem connection. He dreamed of terabyte harddrives for work. Now a good number of students on campus walk around with externals drives of that capacity filled with movies and music.

    His first cell phone in 96, a monstrous Motorola MicroTak (no one knew the number to it because the rates were so high)

    compared to my iPhone with internet, gps, augmented reality, and all the other fun stuff.

    With perspective these advances are really inspiring.

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