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Bluetooth Mesh Networking

Nov. 13, 2020

Bluetooth Mesh Networking

The Bluetooth SIG released the mesh networking specifications in 2017, which are a set of three specifications: Mesh Profile, Mesh Model, and Mesh Device Properties. The Mesh Profile specifies the operation of generic purpose mesh networks. While the idea of using Bluetooth technology to build low-power wireless networks has been around for many years, Mesh Model and Mesh Device Properties came largely unexpected by the industry, especially considering the scope of what they have delivered.

The Mesh Model specification includes a complete set of features needed to build highly scalable and robust lighting control networks. Classifying them as lighting control would be an understatement, as a significant part of the Mesh Model specification deals with sensors and data. Today, it has become obvious that sensors are a fundamental part of a lighting control system. And what is becoming more obvious is that in lighting systems the control part starts to become overshadowed by data collection from non-lighting, environmental sensors, such as temperature, air quality, noise, CO2 concentration, and more. The Bluetooth Mesh Model specification has been supporting all these since the beginning.

Bluetooth mesh was designed, from the beginning, to be the first low-power wireless mesh networking solution that meets the strict reliability, scalability, and security requirements of commercial and industrial markets. Upon its release, it was widely believed that adoption of the technology would start in the smart building market — specifically within connected lighting solutions designed for commercial building automation.

“The arrival of Bluetooth mesh will transform lighting into part of the IT network and effectively kill the traditional lighting control box,” said Ray Molony from Lux Review.

As predicted, lighting control systems have served as a key use case driving the increase in Bluetooth mesh implementations. A building’s lighting system provides a natural grid through which all devices in a Bluetooth mesh network can pass messages and establish whole-building control, monitoring, and automation systems within a facility. This wireless lighting solution can also function as a platform to enable indoor positioning and location services — including point-of-interest solutions, indoor navigation, asset tracking, and improved space utilization.

As the only wireless standard that provides a fully decentralized architecture and is completely free from a single point of failure, Bluetooth mesh has recurrently proven to be the most-efficient, easy-to-use wireless technology for professional lighting applications and the only truly scalable wireless standard. According to the 2020 Bluetooth Market Update, since the technology was released in 2017, the number of qualified products related to Bluetooth mesh has been growing rapidly, doubling every six months. As of December 2019, there are close to 500 Bluetooth mesh certified products, 90% of which are lighting focused end products. Commercial lighting control systems are relying on Bluetooth mesh networking to create large-scale device networks that can act as the building’s central system. Used across retail, tourism, and enterprise to provide advanced lighting control, these systems also establish a platform that enables advanced building services, including wayfinding and asset tracking.

Today, commercial lighting control systems based on Bluetooth mesh technology have received strong support from many leading companies.

With the rapid development of IoT and AI technology, as well as the continuous increase in consumer awareness, the smart home has become a hot topic of widespread interest. In recent years, growth in the number of annual Bluetooth smart home device shipments has accelerated year by year. According to the 2019 Bluetooth Market Update, the annual shipments of Bluetooth smart home devices are expected to reach 1.15 billion by 2023, and already total more than ¾ of a billion.

The growth expectations of Bluetooth in the smart home can be partly attributed to the introduction of the Bluetooth mesh networking specification released in July 2017, which enables Bluetooth member companies to develop solutions that meet the needs of many emerging markets, including the smart home. Bluetooth mesh enables hundreds or even thousands of devices to connect reliably and securely, creating large-scale device networks that can be used across a range of commercial and industrial environments to support control, monitoring, and automation systems. We are also noticing an exciting trend where some large enterprises in the smart home market are choosing Bluetooth mesh as a strategic communications protocol for smart home solutions, enabling developers using their smart home platform to create more applications. This will effectively promote an acceleration of the development of the smart home industry and ecosystem.  


Dig below the hype and you’ll discover there are real benefits to mesh networking.

Some people in the industry view mesh networking as the next ‘shiny object’, nothing more than another excuse to raise prices. But mesh does deliver significant benefits over star or peer-to-peer networks and looks set to make a real impact on the industrial IoT and in the smart home in the years to come.

The reason is simple: mesh networks solve a specific problem. A conventional wireless router offers limited coverage if you can’t hardwire additional access points to it, which drives up complexity and expense in large spaces such an office building. On the other hand, mesh networks bring wireless connectivity to such a space far more simply than ever before.


While traditional networks use a small number of wired access points to connect users, a wireless mesh network is spread out among many nodes that connect with one another to share the network connection across a much larger area.

Mesh networking treats each base station as a node that exchanges information continuously about network conditions with all adjacent nodes across the entire set. This allows nodes that aren’t sending and receiving data to each other to still know all about each other. This knowledge might reside in a cloud-based backend or in firmware on each router.

Mesh networks don’t retransmit all the data passing through among a set of base stations. The systems on the market dynamically adjust radio attributes and channels to create the least possible interference and the greatest possible coverage area, which results in a high level of throughput.

Bluetooth mesh is optimized for creating large-scale device networks and is ideally suited for building automation, sensor network and asset tracking solutions. Only Bluetooth mesh networking brings the proven, global interoperability and mature, trusted ecosystem associated with Bluetooth technology to the creation of industrial-grade device networks.

For over a decade, Bluetooth has been the global wireless standard for the connected home, connecting everything from appliances to entertainment systems. Now, with mesh networking support, Bluetooth is well positioned to help the home automation market reach mass scale. Bluetooth mesh plays an important role in strengthening the connectivity and interoperability among smart home devices. It also provides the flexibility for us to define our home automation experience. We are seeing an increasing demand for more and more IoT devices to connect with the Tmall Genies. And, as an international standard for connectivity, Bluetooth mesh technology will undoubtedly be adopted by more enterprises as time goes by.

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