Imagine a future where a single headset takes care of all your calls and audio. Say it’s playing music from your laptop, when your cell phone starts ringing. Music is paused, and the headset is now channeling the cell phone call. You press a headset button to start a second call through a connected desk phone, and then you merge the two calls together into a conference – all without taking off your headset.
Does that sound a bit like science fiction? Well, it isn’t. This technology is called “multipoint,” and it’s been here for a while.
A bit of history: While Bluetooth headsets have been around since the year 2000, being able to connect one to more than a single phone at the same time is a relatively new development. Multipoint technology emerged in the mid-2000s and has been continuously refined and improved ever since. But what in the world is it, and how does it work?
Let’s take a look:
In the case of simple multipoint, a Bluetooth headset is connected to two separate devices at the same time. When one of them rings, the headset knows which one it is. So when you answer the call, the headset will automatically stream it from the right device.
If you’re already talking on your first phone, the headset will alert you if there’s an incoming call on a second one. You can then pick up this second call directly from the same headset.
In practice, simple multipoint is useful in many different cases. For example:
- Having a work and personal phone with you, both connected to the same headset.
- Using the headset for Skype without losing connection to your primary cell phone.
- Playing “Candy Crush Saga” on your tablet with full sound effects without worrying about missing an important call on your work phone.
- You get the picture…
Here’s a short video that illustrates the concept rather well:
Simple multipoint comes with one minor inconvenience: When you answer a second incoming call, your headset actually drops the connection to the call you’re already on. So you can inadvertently hang up on your best friend while answering a nuisance call from a telemarketer.
Fortunately, something called “advanced multipoint” takes care of that issue.
Advanced multipoint is almost exactly the same as simple multipoint…except more advanced. Bad jokes aside, the primary function of advanced multipoint is the same: There are two connected devices and one headset that can answer two separate calls.
But – in the case of advanced multipoint – the first call is not dropped when you pick up the second incoming call. Instead, the first call is put on hold, so you can return to it once you’re done with the other one. In fact, you can keep switching between the two calls, putting them on hold interchangeably.
With advanced multipoint, you can quickly yell at the bothersome telemarketer and get back to your friend at the press of a button. Advanced multipoint is becoming the standard for most new Bluetooth headsets.
Some of the newer professional headsets take this a step further. These headsets have a docking base with a nifty touch screen. The base unites all of your connections – from cell phone to desk phone to computer. As such, you can connect to three devices at once and control them all via the touch screen.
These professional headsets let you not only switch between calls but even merge them into one conversation. So now you can make your friend yell at the telemarketer on your behalf. I discuss this triple connectivity in more detail in this blog post.
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