Who is that guy talking to?

No less than two years ago, you would have looked suspiciously at people walking down the street and talking to themselves. You might have even crossed the road to avoid them. Today, however, we immediately assume that such people are on their cell phones and using a wireless Bluetooth connection. The guy talking to himself no longer crazy -- now 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. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) uses it in its MacBook laptop series, Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) has it in its Treo PDA phones, and Motorola (NYSE:MOT) 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 wedding-planning site The Knot (NASDAQ:KNOT) last February after noticing its increasing popularity among newlywed couples and its surging profit margins. Even better, The Knot doesn't appear to have a viable contender to cut into its profits. The recommendation has since climbed nearly 98% for Rule Breakers subscribers.

Or consider the August 2006 recommendation of Under Armour (NYSE:UA), makers of high-performance athletic apparel. Detractors are quick to point out that Under Armour has tough competition going against the likes of Nike, but supporters believe that Under Armour's growing popularity among young athletes, solid revenue growth, and high level of insider ownership are evidence of a brand that might have the chance to supplant Nike.

Beat the market to the punch
Timing matters when it comes to paradigm-shifting technology. For example, investors who picked up shares of software titan Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) in July 2001 have actually lost money to date. If you had the foresight to notice its innovative service in 1992, you would be up 3,600% today.

But sometimes, having that foresight is the hard part. Throughout history, there have been plenty of companies that have 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, let our Rule Breakers team help you find some 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. Palm is a Stock Advisor choice. The Fool's disclosure policy shifts paradigms like nobody's business.