New software puts Bluetooth Mesh on old hardware

With the official release of Bluetooth mesh networking, Silicon Labs is implementing it on existing silicon with three software packages.

electronicsweekly, Jul. 18, 2017 – 

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.

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