Today, we’re kicking off a new series of publications about wireless communication in the lighting environment. In multiple short blog posts, we’ll be exploring the essential characteristics of wireless technologies, discussing what they really mean for lighting control. From network topology and data rate to multicasting and information-centric networking, we’ll explain everything you should know when choosing a wireless engine for your lighting and sensing products.
We’ll start things off with mesh topology. Why does it matter and is it really that important? Read on to find out!
What is mesh topology?
In mesh topology, smart devices can not only receive messages and act upon them, but also distribute those messages within the network. This is called relaying. Since all nodes cooperate with one another to effectively route data across the network, each node may send and receive messages to/from other nodes regardless of the distance between them. Exact relaying techniques may vary, though, as may the efficiency of different mesh networks in specific applications. The leading low-power mesh technologies today are Bluetooth mesh, Thread, ZigBee and Z-Wave. They all might seem similar at the first glance, but there are multiple important differences in the way they handle mesh networking. We will explain many of these differences when reviewing other crucial wireless characteristics in forthcoming blog posts.
What does it mean for lighting?
Without mesh networking, there is no wireless lighting control. Simple as that. The mesh topology is essential for connected lighting applications mainly because of its extended range and peer-to-peer communication capabilities. With the lighting infrastructure evenly spread across any built environment, smart fixtures extend mesh network coverage to the limits of an entire building.