The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG)
is the body
that oversees the development of Bluetooth standards
and the licensing of the Bluetooth technologies and trademarks
to manufacturers. Founded in 1998, it is a privately held trade association
headquartered in Bellevue
with Michael W. Foley
(Mike) presently its executive director
provides a way to exchange information between wireless
devices such as personal digital assistants
(PDAs), mobile phones
and digital cameras
via a secure, low-cost, globally available short-range radio frequency
band. Originally developed by Ericsson
, Bluetooth is now used in many different products by many different manufacturers
. These manufacturers must be members of some level (see below) in the Bluetooth SIG before they are granted access to the Bluetooth specifications. The SIG also specifies a qualification process that products must be tested in accordance with before they may be branded with the Bluetooth trademarks
and sold to consumers. It also markets the Bluetooth brand and technology and owns the trademarks and standardization documents.
Since its inception in 1998, the Bluetooth SIG is primarily run by a volunteer staff from its member companies. In 2001 Tom Siep served as the group's Managing Director and from 2002-2004 Mike McCamon led the group as its Executive Director. In 2004 he was replaced by Michael W. Foley (Mike). Beginning in 2002 a professional staff was hired, composed of operations, engineering and marketing specialists. From 2002-2004 the Bluetooth SIG was based in Overland Park, Kansas USA and is now based in Bellevue, Washington with additional offices in Malmö, Sweden and Hong Kong, China. In addition to its professional staff, the SIG still relies on many volunteers from member companies who participate in the various working groups that produce the standardization documents and oversee the qualification process for new products.
comprises Corporate Groups, Study Groups, Expert Groups and Working Groups, along with committees
The Corporate Groups are simply the Board of Directors and the professional staff of the SIG.
The Study Groups carry out research into their various areas which informs the development of the Bluetooth specifications. They may eventually become Working Groups in their own right. The current study groups are:
The Expert Groups deal with issues of technical importance to all aspects of Bluetooth's development. As with the Study Groups their work informs the Working Groups as well as the corporate groups. At present there are two Expert Groups
- Audio/visual – hands-free profile (A/V-HFI) Expert Group
- Security Expert Group
- Usability Expert Group
Participation in the Expert Groups is restricted to Promoter members and Associate members.
The Working Groups carry out the principal standardization and specification work of the SIG. They are responsible in large part for determining what these documents will say and are thus a core part of the development process.
- Audio/video Working Group
- Automation Working Group
- Car Working Group
- Host controller interface (HCI)) Working Group
- Human interface device (HID) Working Group
- ISDN Working Group
- Local positioning Working Group
- Personal area networks (PAN) Working Group
- Printing Working Group
- Radio improvements Working Group
- Still-image Working Group
- Unrestricted digital information (UDI) Working Group
Participation in the Working Groups is restricted to Promoter members and Associate members.
The committees of the SIG deal with the other aspects of licensing, marketing and review. The current committees are the
- Bluetooth architectural review board (BARB)
- Bluetooth qualification review board (BQRB)
- Bluetooth technical review board (BTRB)
- Errata process group
- Marketing committee
- Regulatory committee
- Roadmapping committee
- Test initiative committee
- UnPlugFest forum
(UnPlugFest is an annual event at which manufacturers are invited to confidentially test their mutual interoperability)
Probably most significant among them is the Qualification Review Board since this body specifies the manner in which manufacturers must go about complying with the Bluetooth specifications before they are allowed to Bluetooth-brand their products and sell them.
Membership of the SIG is a prerequisite for gaining access to the technical documents that define Bluetooth and thus is necessary for any manufacturer wishing to produce Bluetooth technology. There are three levels of corporate membership totalling more than 3400 members, and individuals may also participate.
These members are the most active in the SIG and have considerable influence over both the strategic and technological directions of Bluetooth as a whole. The current promoter members are
Each Promoter member has one seat (and one vote) on the Board of Directors and the Qualification Review Board (the body responsible for overseeing the qualification process). They each have hundreds of staff in the various working groups and committees that comprise the work of the SIG.
Any member may become an Associate member provided they pay an annual subscription fee. In 2005, this fee was $7
500 for companies with an annual revenue less than $100million and $35 000 for others
Associate members paying the full fee have early access to draft specifications and to work with other Associate and Promoter members on enchancing existing specifications. They are also able to review specifications before their publication and have voting rights in the working groups and committees as well as being able to make keynote speeches at industry conferences. Those Associate members who pay the discounted fee retain the document access rights but are not allowed to participate in the working groups and thus have considerably less influence on the standardization processes. The SIG's website carries a full list of Associate members
Any company may become an Adopter member for free. These companies have access to the published specification documents and are able to use the trademarks but play no part in the standardization processes and have no access to draft documents. This is the largest category of membership. The SIG's website carries a full list of Adopter members
Anyone can contribute to the 'Ideas Lab'
which discusses possible uses of Bluetooth.
Next to the development of the technology itself, the qualification process is one of the most important aspects and interoperability requirements are specified in detail. The manufacturer must report the results of these tests to a Bluetooth Qualification Body (BQB). If they do not follow the specification of a particular test, the manufacturer must also report the detail of what they did instead.
If these tests are all passed, the device progresses to the Category A tests. These must be carried out at recognised Bluetooth Qualification Test Facilities, of which there are currently only 20 in the world As of 2005, this testing process costs $10 000 for Adopter members and $5 000 for Associate members and Promoter members. These test facilities use equipment developed specifically for the purpose, and are approved on behalf of the Qualifications Review Board by a Bluetooth Technical Assessor (BTA). These assessors are individuals who are experienced with such laboratory assessment procedures and who can demonstrate their understanding of the technical requirements of Bluetooth. The SIG currently contracts with accreditation organizations to carry out the process of selecting and training Assessors, with the Qualifications Review Board giving the eventual formal approval.
Once a device has passed all the Category A, B and C tests to the satisfaction of a BQB, it is allowed to be marketed as a Bluetooth device using the Bluetooth trademarks.