Mesh networking capability added to Bluetooth

July 19, 2017 //By Graham Prophet
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced that Bluetooth technology now supports mesh networking. The new mesh capability enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. The announcement was immediately followed by silicon vendors in the sector with their own disclosures of stack updates to accommodate mesh.

The extension of Bluetooth is a software/firmware update and is implemented within the Bluetooth protocol stack; no physical-level changes are involved and Bluetooth Mesh will run on Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) hardware and silicon.

The SIG says that Bluetooth mesh is 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.

“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. “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.”

Commercial building and factory automation, the SIG adds, represent major market opportunities for wireless mesh networking technologies. These markets demand true industrial-grade solutions, which Bluetooth mesh uniquely delivers, with features including:

  • Reliability: Enables inherently self-healing networks with no single points of failure
  • Scalability: Supports thousands of nodes with industrial-level performance
  • Security: Provides industrial-grade security for protection against all known attacks

The SIG proposes the appeal of Bluetooth mesh to be that it delivers proven, global interoperability that assures products from different vendors work together, with attributes quoted as:

  • Full-stack solution: A unique full-stack approach defines the low-level radio up to the high-level application layer, ensuring all aspects of the technology are fully specified
  • Interop-centric specification: Comprehensive, multi-vendor interoperability testing is conducted during the specification development process, not after specification release
  • Time-tested tools and processes: A 20-year history of delivering the qualification tools and processes needed to ensure global, multi-vendor interoperability