Technology: Bluetooth mesh

Bluetooth is one of the most succesfull short range point-to-point radio protocols in the world. It's known for it's low power and versatility. Until now the short range and point-to-point nature were major drawbacks for using Bluetooth in home automation. Bluetooth Mesh is built on the new Bluetooth 5 standard and solves both problems making it the best protocol out there for home automation and other IoT applications.

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Mesh networking

We all know classic star networks in which many nodes connect to a single gateway, for example WiFi. All nodes in such a star network must be in range of the gateway to talk to each other. The range of the network is thus limited by the node-to-gateway distance. In a mesh network all nodes can talk directly to each other and relay messages for other nodes in the network. It's thus no longer required for two nodes to be in direct range of each other as long as there are enough other nodes in between. This makes the range of a Bluetooth Mesh network virtually infinite.

More data and better radio.

The Bluetooth 5 low energy specification onto which the Bluetooth Mesh is built requires the hardware to have a more sensitive reciever. Because of this requirement new Bluetooth radio chips such as the Nordic nRF52832 have a range of about 100 meters, thats 5 times more than older Bluetooth functions. On top of that the theoretical throughput is 1Mbps which makes the Bluetooth Mesh a good candidate for audio streaming.

Open standard

Just as important as the technology behind the mesh is the fact that it's an open standard. Many proprietary mesh protocols are currently in the market but they don't have to capability of interoperating with each other. This means you can't use a wall switch of brand A with a LED driver of brand B. Bluetooth Mesh defines 'models' for many popular devices like lighting, switches, sensors, ... which can all talk to each other.

Local, interoperable device networking

Bluetooth® technology, the global standard for simple, secure wireless connectivity, now supports mesh networking. The new mesh capability enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. It is ideally suited for building automation, sensor networks, and other IoT solutions where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another.

How does it work?

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 the commercial and industrial markets.

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.

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