Bluetooth Vs. Infrared

By Mike Southern

Infrared and Bluetooth are competing technologies in the connectivity battle. While infrared still has its uses, Bluetooth has become the most pervasive technology, extending even to gaming consoles like the Nintendo Wii's remote.


Almost all Bluetooth devices can work together. Infrared devices, such as TV remote controls, need to be designed for specific devices.


Infrared is direct line-of-sight; it will not pass through walls. Bluetooth devices can communicate even when they are separated by obstacles.


The omnidirectional nature of Bluetooth makes it less secure than infrared. Bluetooth devices do use special techniques to minimize this possibility, but it remains a possibility. Infrared signals can only be intercepted by a device in its line of sight.


Officially, Class 3 Bluetooth works at about 30 feet, while infrared is rated at 3 feet. In practice, infrared devices can work at distances of several yards if the conditions are right, but performance may be spotty.


Infrared devices make one-to-one connections. Bluetooth devices can form networks once all of the devices have "identified" themselves to each other.