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Industry fast-tracks Bluetooth mesh spec

Posted: 26 Feb 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Bluetooth? smart mesh? Thread Group? IoT? Zigbee?

Mesh network support is the key to success for any industry standard and the companies behind it that aim to take advantage of the growth in Internet of Things (IoT). No wonder then, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the formation of the Bluetooth Smart Mesh Working Group tasked with fast-tracking that spec.

The SIG's effort to develop mesh profiles reflects both the requirement for extended range or peer-to-peer communication and the keen interest by the industry in this technology. The Smart Mesh Working Group expects to have the specification ready for prototype testing later this year. The SIG will look to officially adopt profiles in 2016.

Pre-emptive strike

But this move can also be viewed as the Bluetooth industry group's pre-emptive strike against the Thread Group. The rival organisation is promising to deliver by the middle of this year its own IPv6-based wireless connectivity standard. It will use IEEE 802.15 radio sets, taking a different radio approach from that of Bluetooth. The Thread spec is also said to feature mesh technology.

Errett Kroeter, senior director of marketing at Bluetooth SIG, told EE Times that the Smart Mesh Working Group's current goal is to have new mesh profiles run not only on the Bluetooth Version 4.2 spec. announced last December, but also on the legacy Version 4.0 spec.

Since its unveiling in 2010, the Bluetooth Version 4.0 spec has given birth to billions of Bluetooth Low Energy devices on the market.

"The smart home is ready to pop," observed Kroeter, an expectation that has prompted "a lot of people to asking the Bluetooth SIG 'what about mesh?'"

Some members of the Bluetooth group, such as CSR and Zuli, have jumped the gun on mesh, rolling out proprietary implementations on the Bluetooth spec last year. CSRmesh, for example, is already commercially available, up and running on Bluetooth Version 4.0 spec.-based devices.

Last summer, when Suke Jawanda, chief marketing officer at the Bluetooth SIG, was asked by EE Times about Bluetooth Mesh, he was careful in his responses. At that time, Jawanda said, "We are aware of CSR's intention" to donate code to the Bluetooth SIG. He then explained that there are nine billion Bluetooth devices in use today. Three billion more are expected to be added this year alone. "Our review board needs to take a careful look" at the mesh technology implementation and how it interacts with devices. "The industry needs that rigor, and we don't want to be casual about it."

Since last fall, however, a Bluetooth SIG study group has done the homework and built a framework, explained Kroeter. Last month, the SIG's board approved their work, which led to the formation of the Bluetooth Smart Mesh Working Group.

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