Who is that guy talking to?

No less than two years ago you would have looked suspiciously at someone walking down the street talking to themselves. You might have even crossed the road to avoid them. Today, however, we immediately assume that person is on their cell phone and using a wireless Bluetooth connection. The guy talking to himself is no longer crazy -- he's really important.

How quickly age-old perceptions can change. And how quickly paradigms can shift.

So where was Bluetooth 10 years ago? It didn't exist. In fact, the Bluetooth name wasn't even coined until 1998.

Despite its brief history, Bluetooth technology has quickly caught on with consumers and changed the way people work and communicate. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) uses it in its Pocket PC series, Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) uses it in its GPS navigation systems, and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) offers it as an option for its cell phone lineup.

Profit from change
While Bluetooth isn't a company you can invest in, its success perfectly illustrates what a paradigm-shifting technology can do. Our Rule Breakers service is always on the lookout for companies you can invest in that are poised to do just that.

For instance, Fool co-founder David Gardner and his team of growth investors got behind biopharmaceutical company Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ:MYGN) in August 2005 after noticing the company's development of "predictive medicine" designed to prevent diseases in people genetically predisposed to afflictions like cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Myriad's success has continued and the recommendation has since climbed nearly 50% for Rule Breakers subscribers.

Or consider their recent recommendation of SuntechPower (NYSE:STP), an alternative energy company that designs, manufactures, and sells photovoltaic cells used in solar power panels. Detractors are quick to point out that Suntech has tough competition going against established energy conglomerates like Chevron (NYSE:CVX), which also has its hand in the alternative energy cookie jar, but supporters believe that Suntech's great margins and sustainable competitive advantages give it a chance to become the undisputed leader in solar power.

Beat the market to the punch
Timing matters when it comes to paradigm-shifting technology. For example, investors who picked up shares of online auction trailblazer eBay in October 2004 have actually lost money to date. If you had the foresight to recognize its innovative service in October 1998 you would be up more than 1,000% today.

But sometimes having that foresight is the hard part. Throughout history there have been plenty of companies who've been touted as "paradigm shifting," only to turn out to be flops (think eToys). So if you're looking to get in on paradigm-shifting technology before the rest of the market does and earn great returns in the process, join us at Rule Breakers and check out our team's best ideas. Just follow this link for more information.

This article was originally published on Sept. 26, 2006. It has been updated.

History major Todd Wenning appreciates that the name Bluetooth is taken from the 10th-century Danish King Harold Blatand. He does not own shares in any company mentioned. Garmin and eBay are Stock Advisor choices. The Fool's disclosure policy shifts paradigms like nobody's business.