By Ken Kolderup, vice president of marketing, Bluetooth Special Interest Group, Inc.
Bluetooth® technology, the global standard for simple, secure wireless connectivity, now supports mesh networking. The new mesh capability enables many-to-many device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. It is ideally suited for building automation, sensor networks, connected lighting, and other Internet of Things (IoT) solutions where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another.
"The addition of mesh to the Bluetooth standard will open up significant opportunities for richer experiences in smart homes and building automation, enabling fresh waves of innovation across a range of IoT applications,” said Bob Morris, vice president of marketing, ARM Wireless Business Unit. “Low-power connectivity is essential to bringing the next generation of secure IoT devices to life.”
How it Works
Bluetooth mesh networking brings the unique combination of the proven, global interoperability and mature, trusted ecosystem Bluetooth technology is known for to the creation of industrial IoT networks.
“To harness the full potential of the IoT, you need a wireless protocol that’s widely integrated in a multitude of devices and has efficient mesh networking capability,” said Simon Coombes, Gooee CTO.
Bluetooth mesh networking utilizes a managed flood approach for message transmission, which is a simple and reliable form of message relay that is uniquely suited for low-power wireless mesh networks, especially those handling a significant amount of multicast traffic. This makes flood-based message relay an ideal approach for the strict reliability, scalability, and performance requirements of industrial markets.
A Proven, Trusted Technology
Today, Bluetooth is the leading low power wireless connectivity technology used to stream audio, transfer data, or broadcast information between devices. Now, with the introduction of a mesh networking capability, Bluetooth mesh networking is poised to further catalyze beacons, robotics, industrial automation, energy management, smart city applications, and other industrial IoT and advanced manufacturing solutions.
“The addition of Bluetooth mesh networking introduces new solutions for Bluetooth to create opportunities and meet the demands of emerging markets, such as the IoT,” said Richard Edgar, director of communications technology, Ensigma, Imagination Technologies.
The value-added capabilities, mature ecosystem, and global brand awareness that Bluetooth wireless technology provides will enable the creation of richer sensor-based solutions with a faster time to market.
“For us, Bluetooth mesh is the future,” said Dr. Juergen Kienhoefer, CEO, Wireless Cables Inc. “Our customers are mostly industrial customers that work with sensors and controls, meaning they need long range, tight security, and reliable communication with a large number of devices, as well as more and more integrated web capabilities each year. While our current solutions can extend Bluetooth range up to 200 meters, Bluetooth mesh allows us to solve even more complex range and limit problems.”
The introduction of Bluetooth mesh networking comes at a time of pivotal industry growth, with ABI Research expecting 48 billion internet-enabled devices to be installed by 2021, of which nearly one-third will include Bluetooth. We expect Bluetooth mesh will make the largest initial impact in commercial lighting and industrial applications, and will eventually become a common technology in the larger IoT ecosystem.
"By adding support for mesh networking, the Bluetooth member community is continuing a long history of focused innovation to help new, up-and-coming markets flourish," said Mark Powell, executive director for Bluetooth SIG, Inc. "In the same way the connected device market experienced rapid growth after the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy, we believe Bluetooth mesh networking can play a vital role in helping early stage markets, such as building automation and wireless sensor networks, experience more rapid growth."
Learn more about Bluetooth mesh networking and download this technical overview for a deeper look into the key concepts and terminology, system architecture, security mechanisms, and unique message publication and delivery technique behind Bluetooth mesh networking.