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Bluetooth adds a mesh networking capability

31 July, 2017

The Bluetooth wireless communication system now supports mesh networking, allowing “many-to-many” device communications. The new version, announced by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), is optimised for creating large-scale networks of devices such as sensors, where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with each other reliably and securely.

“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 of the 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 SIG thinks that factory automation will be a major market for the mesh networking technology. It suggests that Bluetooth mesh offers “unique” capabilities including:

•  Reliability The inherently self-healing networks have no single points of failure

•  Scalability Thousands of nodes can be supported with industrial-level performance

•  Security  Industrial-grade security protects the network against all known attacks

Bluetooth mesh networking is designed to meet the reliability, scalability and security requirements of industrial sensor wireless networks

Another claimed attraction of Bluetooth is its proven multi-vendor interoperability, ensuring that products from different vendors will work together. This interoperability is tested during the specification development process, not after the specification has been released.

Bluetooth’s “unique” full-stack design defines the low-level radio up to the high-level application layer, specifying all aspects of the technology. And mesh networks built using the Bluetooth technology can support additional services, such as asset tracking and way finding.

The SIG says that Bluetooth’s 20-year history results in a mature eco-system with time-tested qualification tools and processes needed to ensure global, multi-vendor interoperability.

The Bluetooth mesh networking specifications, as well as the tools needed to qualify Bluetooth products with mesh networking support, are available from the Bluetooth Web site.

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