New software puts Bluetooth Mesh on old hardware


SiLabs BT mesh

Bluetooth mesh is a protocol that will run on top of any Bluetooth 4.0 device. It does not need Bluetooth 5 hardware, Silicon Labs marketing manager Mikko Savolainen told Electronics Weekly. It relies completely on Bluetooth Low Energy ‘advertising’ messages, defining what goes into the 31byte payload.

A software stack for existing silicon that can implement Bluetooth Mesh 1.0 is the first Silicon Labs product.

Next are Bluetooth mesh mobile apps supporting the firm’s Bluetooth-capable chips and modules. Android versions are available now, with the iOS versions expected at the end of this year.

The third product is a software development kit, to assist product vendors with their product software.

“We expect to see a wave of new devices hit the market by leveraging ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity to create hub-less mesh networks that extend the range and reliability of Bluetooth systems,” said Silicon Labs v-p IoT products Daniel Cooley.

According to Savolainen, whether or not a particular Bluetooth mesh network node acts as a relay for messages between other nodes is an attribute which can be turned on or off.

Battery-powered nodes like domestic wireless light switches will not be expected to act as relays as this pushes power consumption up from µA to mA.

The ceiling light fitting, is a likely venue for relay activity as there is a mains power supply and good visibility, he said.

In commercial settings, such as shops, such light fittings could also be the source of Bluetooth ‘beaconning’ – wirelessly advertising nearby products.

Further away, Bluetooth-connected light fittings could also become the nodes that implement Bluetooth ‘scanning’ – searching for mobile beacons – for example attached to assets – for asset tracking in warehouses or hospitals for example, said Savolainen.

Si Labs has silicon for BT, Thread and Zigbee – on the same multi-mode chip in some cases.



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