Bluetooth mesh technology has revolutionized the lighting control environment by providing a wireless lighting control solution that is easy to use, secure, and scalable. With Bluetooth mesh, commercial lighting systems can be controlled and monitored remotely without requiring complex wired systems.
The evolution of Bluetooth
1994 - The invention of wireless Bluetooth technology by Ericsson.
The first iteration of the Bluetooth technology (Bluetooth Classic) allowed for simple, wireless, point-to-point data exchange between two Bluetooth devices. It was considered a breakthrough in the field of Bluetooth wireless control devices communication.
1998 - The introduction of Bluetooth SIG - Special Interest Group.
Focused on the development and licensing of Bluetooth standards, Special Interest Group was founded to provide developers with technical specifications to help them create new systems based on wireless Bluetooth SIG technology.
2010 - The release of Bluetooth SIG 4.0 Specification (Bluetooth Low Energy).
Introducing a different network topology, Bluetooth 4.0 enabled one-to-many wireless communication. Providing a wide range of profiles for healthcare and home entertainment applications, this version of Bluetooth has helped to reduce energy consumption significantly.
2015 -The formation of the Mesh Working Group.
The development of many Bluetooth-based proprietary mesh solutions around the world caused the foundation of a new subdivision of the Bluetooth SIG. It focused on creating an open mesh networking standard for Bluetooth technology.
2017 - The official adoption of Bluetooth SIG mesh standard.
After two years of development, Bluetooth mesh was officially adopted as a networking standard on July 18, 2017, which allowed companies to join and together build an interoperable ecosystem.
2018 - Bluetooth mesh-enabled products available on the market.
Due to Bluetooth SIG mesh implementation in solutions such as Silvair’s lighting control technology, new interoperable lighting products are becoming available on the market. You can finally start to build your own mesh networks.
It's all about the network topology
A constant development of Bluetooth networking technologies is driven by a vision of a fully connected world. Back in a day, point-to-point (1:1) connectivity allowed to make two separate devices (phones, health monitors, watches and fitness trackers) talk to each other. But as time went by and the number of smart devices increased, we became in need of a more advanced solution that would enable one-to-many communications. A broadcast topology (1:m) was, therefore, invented and it became frequently used in applications such as beacons. And though previous 1:1 and 1:m topologies are still suitable for many situations, the progress was inevitable. Being able to start implementing various smart services such as connected lighting, technology providers found themselves in need of a new type of network topology which would become their solid foundation. This is how a mesh topology was born. In order to provide building occupants with services such as those relating to the Internet of Things, we need many devices (m:m) to communicate collectively at the same time. A mesh topology uses its network devices called nodes to enable fast data transmissions over long distances. These devices can be, for example, luminaires distributed throughout a multi storey commercial building. Once all the connections are established, a mesh network becomes self-sufficient in its activities. Moreover, the same network that was set up for smart lighting applications can be later used for providing value-added services such as asset tracking, space utilization, and occupancy analytics. This is one of the reasons why a combination of Bluetooth technology and mesh networking is thought to be a groundbreaking solution for redefining the smart lighting experience. Let's have a look at the bluetooth mesh features.
The importance of reliability
Apart from its impressive architecture, Bluetooth SIG mesh based controls is an extremely reliable solution enabling networked lighting and guaranteeing that your smart lighting system will work efficiently at all times. It does not require any gateways or hubs to be fully operational. This is why there is no single device whose malfunction would affect the entire network based lighting.
multipath mesh network that needs no healing - to enable uninterrupted message delivery
short messages - minimizing the probability of radio packet collisions
no hub and no single point of failure - a malfunction of a single mesh device has no impact on the rest of the network
compatibility with an enormous installed base of devices - (smartphones, tablets, laptops with both Bluetooth 4.0 and Bluetooth 5) so that electronic devices we all use every day can be used as commissioning, control and diagnostic tools
The priority of security
Bluetooth SIG mesh is a highly secure technology that uses the most advanced encryption standard and device authentication preventing third parties from trying to break into your smart lighting infrastructures and controlled luminaires. You can also divide a Bluetooth mesh network into seperate subnets – each cryptographically distinct and secure from the others. This is additional security level for distributed bluetooth lighting network controls.
secure low-power technology - using an advanced encryption standard as well as a cutting-edge device authentication
separation of concerns - network security, application security, and device security are addressed independently
device authentication - a provisioned device outputs a random, single or multi-digit number to the user that is to be entered into the Provisioner for the cryptographic exchange to take place between the two devices
protection against malicious attacks - Bluetooth mesh was design to defends itself from, for example, malicious data transmission repeats and delays (replay attack protection), extracting passwords from a removed network device (trashcan attack protection) and other threats.
The significance of scalability
The unmatched scalability of Bluetooth mesh guarantees full-building coverage by connecting thousands of lighting devices in the largest commercial spaces. Having built our own Bluetooth mesh network consisting of a thousand of devices, we know that scale is clearly one of Bluetooth mesh’s most valuable advantages.
scalability to thousands of network devices (nodes): supporting high-density multi-service sensory networks
high data transfer rate: thanks to Bluetooth radio’s transmission rate up to 1 Mb/s, Bluetooth mesh is a fast low-power solution for smart building applications
capability to detect proximity of Bluetooth devices: enabling quick and intuitive commissioning process
publish / subscribe architecture: for more dynamic and stable communication between nodes
The power of interoperability
The goal of the Bluetooth mesh wireless networked lighting is to allow full cross-vendor interoperability of products so that wireless Bluetooth nodes made by different manufacturers could communicate out-of-the-box directly. Bluetooth wireless technology enables complete interoperability because it defines all protocol layers - from the lowest radio network ones to the top application layer. Open standards can drive the widespread adoption of lighting control technologies in commercial spaces. Providing customers with the freedom to choose from a variety of products across different vendors, Bluetooth mesh enables markets to grow and helps smart lighting systems become commonly used lighting solutions. Closed proprietary systems are divisive and risky. Their interoperability is limited to using single-brand products, which means that if the manufacturer stops supporting that particular solution, it first becomes unavailable and then forgotten. Find out whether a particular solution you’re interested in uses the open Bluetooth mesh standard.
Overall, Bluetooth wireless mesh control offers a powerful technology for the commercial and residential lighting controls market that has changed the lighting control environment in a big way. With its ease of use, security, scalability, and interoperability, it is an ideal solution for commercial lighting control implementations of all sizes. Whether you need to retrofit an existing lighting system or install a new one, Bluetooth mesh provides an advanced lighting control platform that is perfect for the job. With Bluetooth mesh, you can control lighting systems with a Bluetooth light controller, Bluetooth light switch, Bluetooth sensor controller, and Bluetooth LED drivers. It's a full-featured lighting control that gives luminaire manufacturers lighting control packages allowing flexibility to control individual lights and create tailored mesh lighting networks for different lighting control projects.
For more detailed information about Bluetooth control and smart lighting solution, visit our step-by-step guide on building adaptive lighting control systems.