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Bluejack City - A new wireless craze is spreading through Europe
Bluejack City - A new wireless craze is spreading through Europe

Just as SMS was spawned, there's a new craze that's spreading across parts of Europe. Reportedly, it's more prominent in the UK, but popular elsewhere too.

Bluejacking, as you may have guessed, involves the Bluetooth standard to send anonymous messages to other Bluetooth-capable handsets with security disabled. This is as close to hand-to-hand mobile combat as you're going to get.

Bluetooth's range on average is 10 meters, and handsets with Bluetooth on board can be made to search for other handsets in this proximity that will accept messages sent to them.

Early adopters have been bluejacking for a while now, but the trend and media reports are set for it to become much more widespread in the coming months, especially as more Bluetooth-enabled handsets hit the market. Research carried out for the Bluetooth SIG claims more than one million Bluetooth-enabled devices are being shipped every week, worldwide.

Bluejacking seems to have originated on message boards at Esato, a popular destination for Sony Ericsson owners. It's a very simple process of creating a contact in your address book using the message you want to send as the name for the entry. On most Bluetooth phones it's possible to send this contact as a message or electronic business card.

Sound familiar? It should. Palm made this popular with IR transmission of business cards on one handset to another. However, Palm has never been as mainstream or accessible to the average consumer as Bluetooth-enabled devices. Also IR had the line-of-sight issues, which meant sender and recipient had to know they were doing it. Bluetooth, with its omni range, means that this type of activity can be done anonymously. It seems the buzz for bluejacking is seeing the reaction and puzzlement from the recipient.

The bluejacking craze seems to be catching on as numbers of page views on sites dedicated to bluejacking are increasing day by day. It's fun for kids at school and even for adults on the train if they're bored. In fact, anywhere there's a large crowd of people - airports, bars, malls - you can bluejack to your heart's content...

Simple How-to Bluejack Guide

  • Enable Bluetooth on your handset or device.
  • Ensure your device is broadcasting Bluetooth acceptance.
  • Create a contact using the message you want sent as the name for that entry.
  • Choose to send this contact via Bluetooth.
  • Sit back while your device tries to locate available Bluetooth devices in range to connect to.
  • Pick a victim from the devices within range and send the contact. (Ideally this will be a PDA or phone and not a printer in the office!)
And that's it, you have now officially either been a bluejacker or been bluejacked.

Fun? Maybe. Novelty? Definitely. Short change MNOs? Good possibility if it becomes the new fad. Although not publicly expressing concern, feeling from the industry is that this is something to be addressed. Rather than MNOs getting revenue for messages sent, they are now going to miss out. You just need to look at the profiles of high-volume SMS users in Europe. Good news for MNOs is that you have to be within range. You have to have a Bluetooth-enabled device and you need a good imagination to make the process interesting.

About Tom Dibble
Tom Dibble , a wireless entrepreneur, is a cofounder of
Global Wireless Forum, a forum dedicated to dealing with commercial, strategic,
and
technical issues on the evaluation of the wireless age in Europe and
the U.S.

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