Saturday, 26 September 2009

Bluetooth scanning experiments

This was never supposed to be exclusively a RepRap blog, I've just never posted anything else on it before, so here goes.

I moved into a new flat that is above a high street, and noticed that there were always a lot of bluetooth devices (phones) around when I looked in the Gnome bluetooth applet.

I created a simple script that continually scans for devices and reads out people's bluetooth names out loud using festival. The next day I broke my vow to never own a Twitter account after I saw how simple the Python API was to use, so now all the names are now posted on Twitter too.

Why? It's all rather pointless, I'm sure it's been done before, but it's an interesting experiment and emphasises the privacy concerns of having your phone continually shouting out "me me me" with a unique identification number (MAC) to anyone who wants to know. I also observed that many of the bluetooth names are actually just set to the phone make and model. It's probably not the best idea to have you're rather expensive phone advertising itself as "BlackBerry 8120" or "Nokia N95 8GB".

You can see the full source here.Link


  1. Interesting. It is a known problem of bluetooth - especially as it can be picked up from quite a few metres away.

    How about linking a combination of 2 devices, or a unique bluetooth name to a person's identity?
    e.g. one of my friends carries an iphone clone + paticular bluetooh headset, is that enough to identify a person and give a warning when he's near?

    That might actually be a useful function....

  2. Doh! you could just link it to the MAC address...!