M2MNetwork ManagementNetworks

New Bluetooth Standard Enables Mesh Networking For IoT

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Bluetooth developers offer ‘industrial grade’ spec upgrade to include support for mesh networking

The developer group behind the Bluetooth specification have released a new specification for the connectivity standard to include support for mesh networking.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said that the new specification will bring Bluetooth technology to industrial-grade device networks.

It comes after Bluetooth 5.0 was officially adopted in December 2016. That spec delivered significant upgrades on speed and range without increasing power use, in an effort to ensure the technology continues to play a vital role in connecting the Internet of Things (IoT).

microsoft-iot-hub

Industrial Spec

Mesh networking is used in both wired and wireless networking, and SIG says that the new Bluetooth mesh capability enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications.It says it is optimised for creating large-scale device networks.

According to SIG, the new spec 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.”

The new specification is being touted as ‘industrial-grade’ so that it can be in commercial buildings as well as factory automation. To this end the new spec is designed to be highly reliable, scalable, and secure.

“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.

“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.”

Mesh Networking

SIG said the new specification is a “full-stack solution … that defines the low-level radio up to the high-level application layer, ensuring all aspects of the technology are fully specified.”

It has also been subjected to “comprehensive, multi-vendor interoperability testing” that builds on SIG’s tested development process.

“Within the building automation market, there is a growing focus on connected lighting and the role it can play as a platform for providing automation services throughout a facility,” said Szymon Slupik, president and CTO of Silvair and chairman of the mesh working group within the Bluetooth SIG.

“A smart lighting platform built on top of Bluetooth mesh networking can also support asset tracking, point of interest, and way-finding services. These value-added capabilities are part of why we believe Bluetooth is an ideal technology for enabling a mesh network.”

The Bluetooth mesh networking specifications, as well as the necessary tools, can be found here.

Quiz: What do you know about the Internet of Things?