Bluetooth is emerging as the preferred wireless technology for WPAN (Bluetooth Technology Overview, White Paper). The only other competing technology is Infrared Technology, known as IrDA.
IrDA is the most economical wireless connectivity solution to implement. In spite of an installed base of over 100 million units worldwide, a series of limitations greatly reduces its potential. Although operating at a transfer rate of 4 Mbps, greater than that of Bluetooth, IrDA requires line-of-sight between appliances which significant reduces usability, its short operating range of 1 meter is a major limitation that will allow Bluetooth to eventually replace it.
Given the fact that IrDA will enjoy a significant edge over Bluetooth in terms of installed base, IrDA will likely continue to be integrated into notebook computers and other handheld devices. As the installed base for Bluetooth grows the need for IrDA will likely decrease; however, this is not expected for several years. For the near to medium term IrDA and Bluetooth will likely coexist.