The steady growth of devices communicating via Bluetooth wireless technology will see 1.4 billion nodes in use by 2005, compared to just 56 million nodes next year, according to researcher Allied Business Intelligence.

Bluetooth is a wireless personal area network standard aimed at enabling a wide variety of devices, including mobile phones, PCs, and handheld computers, to exchange digital voice and data over short distances using low-power radio signals.

Bluetooth will find its way into 17 different market segments, including mobile handsets, notebook computers, desktop PCs and personal digital assistants, according to ABI.

"Bluetooth's scope of adoption is not limited to the mobile phone industry and we will begin to see Bluetooth transceivers embedded in everything from PC equipment to industrial devices," ABI said in its study "Bluetooth: More Than A Cable Replacement."

By 2005, mobile handsets will account for less than 47 percent of all Bluetooth nodes shipped in that year, compared to 65 percent in 2002, according to ABI.

Current obstacles include lack of inexpensive Bluetooth chips, interoperability problems, and limited applications.

But as these issues are addressed, Bluetooth adoption by equipment vendors and actual use by consumers should be robust, ABI said.

The first Bluetooth-enabled devices are due to become generally available in the fourth quarter of this year.