By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: The packaging for Bluetooth products will soon be marked with new labelling to help retailers and consumers more easily determine which products will work together for a task.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is working with consumer electronics and IT companies to introduce the new icon based labelling regime to alleviate confusion about the interoperability of Bluetooth products.

“The problem that we face is that Bluetooth represents a lot of different product areas, unlike other wireless technologies it doesn’t have a single application that everybody commonly understands,” said Bluetooth SIG marketing director – APAC and Japan, Eric Schneider.

“A lot of people do understand the Bluetooth headset application – connecting your headset to you phone, but there are many more applications than that, and as you start applying the Bluetooth logo to more and more products there needs to be a better way of communicating what capabilities that product has. Just saying it has Bluetooth is not enough anymore.”

Five different ‘Experience Icons’ will be used identify product functionalities including printing, file transfer, music streaming, headset and input. In the past retailers and consumers have had to discover whether two products share the same Bluetooth profile to ensure introperablity, but under the new scheme two products with the same ‘Experience Icon’ on the packaging are guaranteed to work together for that function.

“In addition to putting the Bluetooth logo on the box, which admittedly gives the impression that in all cases there is interoperability, we’re adding this additional layer of information. You’ll still have the Bluetooth logo, but now you’ll have these icons which represent functionality,” Schneider said.

The Experience Icons program was officially launched in June, and Schneider believes products will start shipping with the icons in Australia within months.

The Bluetooth SIG is currently consulting with manufacturers and suppliers to start rolling out the labelling regime product packaging, but considers retailers as instrumental in educating consumers of the icons.

“This is a pretty big change in how we present Bluetooth products, and one of the key audiences are the retail channel,” he said.

In 2005 there were 852 individual product designs on the market featuring Bluetooth technology, which represents 44 per cent growth over 2004. The Bluetooth SIG estimates over 10 million Bluetooth enabled products are shipped every week – double the volume this time in 2005.