Bluetooth Mesh Networking to Enable Industrial-Grade IoT Connectivity

The newly released Bluetooth mesh standard will support many-to-many device communications, enhancing smart homes, commercial offices, industrial IoT applications and more.

KIRKLAND, Wash. — The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) today announced the much-anticipated arrival of mesh networking for the short-range wireless standard.

While the standard has long provided the means to interconnect mobile phones, computers and other electronic devices, Bluetooth mesh is optimized for creating large-scale device networks and is ideally suited for building automation, sensor network and asset tracking solutions, according  to the organization.

The new mesh capability enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks, according to Bluetooth SIG, the group that oversees the Bluetooth standard.

“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,” says 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.”

The marketplace has been anticipating the release of Bluetooth mesh for about two years, with some industry watchers concerned the technology was lagging too far behind other solutions such as Zigbee and Z-Wave.

“It all comes down to wanting to do it right. We’ve been working diligently to ensure Bluetooth mesh will meet the requirements of our 32,000+ member companies, conducting comprehensive, multi-vendor interoperability testing throughout the development process,” Martin Woolley, technical program manager at Bluetooth SIG, told INQ about the delay. “We wanted to make sure that we were putting out the best possible mesh network, and one that was fully fit for purpose.

“We also wanted to make sure we delivered an industrial-grade solution that fully covered all market sectors, especially emerging industrial and commercial markets where there is increasingly a lot of demand,” Woolley said. “We’ve done a lot of work with sensor networking and commercial lighting for example.”

Mesh networking could be particularly useful for linking smart home technology, since it allows a device in one area of a residence to communicate with smart devices throughout the entire home. ABI Research forecasts annual Bluetooth device shipments will reach over 5.5 billion by 2022, boosted by mesh networking and recent improvements in range, throughput and broadcast capacity.

“Mesh networking represents a new phase in Bluetooth’s evolution and will be a critical enabler of its transition from a personal area network and pairing technology towards a more scalable, robust, low-power IoT connectivity solution with the ability to connect to the things around us,” says ABI Research Senior Analyst Andrew Zignani.

Mesh network topology helps to overcome the obstacles and shortcomings of conventional hub-to-spoke technologies, including range limitations, limited network sizes, and unreliability, Zignani explains, and can help to create more intelligent and reliable wireless sensor networks that span greater distances and cover a wider area.

“Bluetooth mesh will therefore become increasingly vital to support, create, or enhance several use cases such as smart lighting control, building automation, sensorizing industrial production facilities, and potentially beacons in the future,” he says. “In addition, its introduction will open up new opportunities in areas not normally associated with the technology and where competing wireless connectivity solutions have already gained traction or have had comparative advantages.”

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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