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Mesh Networking Comes To Bluetooth

Bluetooth is set to become more viable as a networking standard for both crowded smart home setups and large-scale enterprise with the introduction of mesh-networking.

“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.

He says that “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.”

The new mesh capability enables many-to-many device communications via Bluetooth, which the company behind the global wireless standard says is optimized for creating large-scale device networks.

The company said in a blog post that “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.”

According to them, “this makes flood-based message relay an ideal approach for the strict reliability, scalability, and performance requirements of the commercial and industrial markets.”

Importantly, these improvements won’t come at the cost of battery life. Bluetooth insist that both sensors and similar battery-powered devices operate as low-power nodes on a Bluetooth mesh network.

Built atop the most recent iteration of the Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) standard, Bluetooth mesh network is theoretically supported by and devices running specification version 4.0 and higher.

However, Bluetooth themselves add that “Only products designed to be upgradable can be enhanced in the field to support mesh networking.”

They say “upgradeability is determined by several factors, such as the amount of memory available in the Bluetooth chip.”

Bluetooth say they expect existing sensor solutions to adopt mesh networking and that customers will be see commercial products with Bluetooth mesh networking technology as early as this year.

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