Since its release in July 2017, Bluetooth mesh has become a popular choice for large-scale device networks, according to Martin Woolley, senior developer relations manager, EMEA at Bluetooth. More than 200 products with mesh networking capability have been qualified from leading silicon, stack, component and end-product vendors


he release of Bluetooth mesh paved the way for the rise of connected

lighting, and has become the key use case in building automation. One of the driving forces behind this momentum is the added benefit of using a Bluetooth wireless lighting grid as a platform for additional services. In a truly smart building, lights can be

much more than just lights. These buildings are supported by lighting systems that have the potential to act as a distributed network of small computers and are capable of hosting all sorts of other applications, enabling the creation of true smart building services. Inherent interoperability, fundamental

device behaviour models, and value-added capabilities are all critical to making the concept of the true smart building a reality. So, how can it be done?

THE POWER OF MESH Bluetooth mesh is a low-energy communication standard which makes it possible to provide reliable, fast, and scalable wireless lighting control system. In contrast to conventional lighting, Bluetooth mesh enabled systems can be wirelessly controlled throughout offices and buildings everywhere. Bluetooth mesh networks enable

many-to-many communication between devices and are ideal for creating smart building solutions that require several thousand devices to communicate

reliably and securely with each other. It brings the standards-based interoperability of Bluetooth technology to the burgeoning world of device networks in smart buildings. Bluetooth mesh lighting networks are

based on the publish-subscribe principle and as such, addresses are assigned information, not specific devices. Luminaires subscribe to messages from certain addresses so that they can react to relevant messages. Other devices publish to these addresses and distribute lighting control commands simultaneously to all affected recipients. An essential prerequisite for lighting

applications is multicasting, as it is able to spread messages with a single transmission to many nodes. This is because in commercial environments, dozens or more network nodes must simultaneously respond to lighting control commands. So, how do you enable this? A

Bluetooth mesh networking can facilitate multiple network operations to be simultaneously invoked by sending a single multicast message.

SIMULTANEOUS MULTICASTING One issue to consider when installing smart lighting applications is the volume of data. With centralised radio-based networks, the data always runs via a central control device. This not only makes it a single point of failure, but also creates

bottlenecks. This is because the sensors send information to the central control hardware, which in turn sends commands to each of the associated devices. This multiplies the volume of data traffic and is a real problem, especially for lighting applications where an immediate response is required. By having significantly reduced data

volume sets, Bluetooth mesh networking is immediately set apart from other wireless systems. Bluetooth mesh networking shifts the control functions to the individual devices. This reduces the volume of data traffic by half and enables a decentralised architecture without bottlenecks or single points of failure. Furthermore, Bluetooth mesh networks

do not require any central control devices, as a software controller can be included within each luminaire. They also do not require gateways, as Bluetooth is already integrated in every personal computing device. This even allows a smartphone to connect directly to any node when commissioning or configuration tasks are performed.

LIGHTING REVOLUTION A smart lighting platform built on top of Bluetooth mesh networking might support asset tracking, point of interest, and way-finding services. These value-added capabilities are part of why Bluetooth is an ideal technology for enabling a mesh network in a commercial environment. For years, Bluetooth technology has

been the global standard for reliable, secure wireless connectivity. Now, with the capability to create large-scale, smart lighting networks, lighting systems can double as a wireless platform and support a range of building services. In fact, others are also recognising this; connected lighting solutions are on the rise, with a projected increase in annual shipments through 2023 of six and a half times.

Bluetooth  ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING | SEPTEMBER 2019 31

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