Bluetooth Mesh + Internet of Things
If smart devices can talk to each other, they must be getting smarter, right? Bluetooth modules are now more advanced and more affordable than ever before. Everyone knows about the technology. You don’t have to look far to see Bluetooth-enabled devices. This easy to use wireless protocol is in wearables like fitness trackers or smart watches, in our phones and tablets, even in rice cookers. Here is where it gets exciting. The technology is advancing with lower power consumption, enhanced range, easier pairing, a background operation to wake when needed and easy data retrieval. These capabilities make it easy to connect the device to a smartphone and off to the internet. It has been mostly used for the one to one connection, but not any more as Bluetooth goes Mesh.
Mesh networking is a key architecture for the Internet of Things. Mesh networking uses a network of nodes accepting and forwarding information from neighboring nodes. This makes networks easy to scale and affordably expand by adding new nodes while avoiding an unplanned frequency clash. Mesh networking isn’t new, Zigbee has been integrated, mostly in industrial automation applications over the last 20 years. Now with Bluetooth applied to the Mesh concept, specialists like Cambridge Silicon Radio have developed their own software overlay for low power Bluetooth devices called CSRmesh. CSRmesh allows these enabled nodes to transmit messages, but also to advance those messages to devices in their vicinity. This expands the range of Bluetooth connected devices and creates a mesh network for a wide variety of IoT devices.
Talk about a lightbulb over your head! SK Telecom in Korea will launch one of the first products to integrate this low power, CSRmesh enabled module, built directly into an LED light bulb. This will enable most environments, think retail, with the ability to replace a light bulb and at the same time build a Bluetooth nodal network, which will send and receive information to every other light bulb around it. Using existing lighting fixtures and infrastructure means even and consistent networking between nodes and no batteries to change or charge like applications used in low power portables.
It may be time to take another look at Bluetooth module that is right for your product or product idea, the low cost, small size and availability makes, this invisible bluetooth mesh network even more powerful. Bluetooth standards like 4. 0 and 4.1 have the potential to drive product innovation. Now that everyone has a smartphone, having an easy way to connect to a bluetooth network of devices is an advancement for the Internet of Things.