Chuck Sabin, senior director, market development, Bluetooth SIG says that Bluetooth Mesh Technology is redefining smart lighting

Since its inception, Bluetooth mesh technology has made a significant impact in the commercial and industrial space by enabling NLC (Networked Lighting Control) systems and continues to have a bright outlook with exceptional growth of 34% CAGR over the next five years, according to ABI Research.

Using Bluetooth mesh technology, many-to-many device communications are enabled and optimised to create large-scale device networks where hundreds and even thousands of devices can communicate with each other. Thanks to this, Bluetooth mesh technology can optimize an existing lighting system with networked sensors and luminaires to deliver benefits such as flexible control, energy savings, better lighting, environmental comfort and building efficiencies to both building managers and the occupants, themselves.

Following its release in 2017, Bluetooth mesh technology has gained wider adoption and has become the clear choice for large-scale device networks. Today, thousands of mesh products have been qualified and are being sold in the market, from leading silicon, stack, component, modules, and end-product vendors.

By providing a robust, scalable, low-power, wireless connectivity, Bluetooth mesh technology is redefining industrial and commercial networks. Let’s delve deeper.

Reliable, decentralised, rapid messages

A mesh network is judged on its reliability, with a particular focus on its capabilities to deliver messages between devices – Bluetooth mesh technology is no exception.

There are two key forms of message relay with Bluetooth mesh to ensure delivery is uninterrupted, including peer-to-peer communications and multipath message relay.

Regarding peer-to-peer messaging, all nodes communicate directly with one another. There is no requirement for a centralised hub, which means if one node breaks down, there is no domino effect and no single point of failure to a network.

Multipath messaging enables Bluetooth mesh networks to use a managed flood message relay architecture that is self-healing for reliable message delivery. If one pathway is blocked, the message can simply take an alternative route, allowing wireless installations to achieve the trouble-free performance and scalability of wired systems.

Its robust reliability and delivery of messages create an exciting potential, particularly within commercial environments that are sensor dense, including retail environments, manufacturing floors, and smart office buildings. There is also value to be gained within the smart home, as the network enables users to combine Bluetooth-enabled devices from different vendors.

Smart lighting to reduce emissions

Throughout an office, airport, shopping center, and factory floor, lighting is everywhere and most importantly, mains powered. For this reason, the NLC systems will be a crucial ecosystem for delivery of occupancy sensing, light level management, and transporting sensor data in commercial environments.

Given complex lighting systems are present throughout most commercial and industrial infrastructure, there is a vast opportunity to implement a mesh networked lighting control system. By doing so, not only are businesses able to manage their systems better and much more efficiently, individuals can also connect to the network and efficiently manage their personal environment via their smartphones.

From a business perspective, key use cases include managing the networked lighting control system in more advanced ways. For instance, using the mesh network for occupancy sensing and light level management ensures only necessary parts of the building with occupants are lit and manages the luminaires’ light output accordingly to natural daylight. By doing so, businesses can play a vital role in being environmentally aware and accountable, making improvements to create more intelligent, energy-efficient offices and buildings.

Combined technologies enhancing customer experience

Combining Bluetooth mesh technology with other lighting industry standards can deliver an even greater value proposition.

The Bluetooth SIG and the DALI Alliance have also collaborated to specify a standardised interface that will enable the communication and data flow between sensor-rich D4i luminaires and DALI-2 devices to Bluetooth mesh networked lighting controls and other building management systems.

Use-cases include using sensor rich data in the luminaire for understanding the location of people and the environment around them, which has vast benefits from space utilisation and environmental control to safety and security. Intelligent lighting systems can harvest a range of data from building sensors. This can also help retailers, as an example, identify areas of footfall, understand customer behaviour, and help drive additional efficiencies for space management and environmental control (e.g. HVAC) with building managers.

By implementing a Bluetooth networked lighting control system, businesses have the backbone needed to deliver value to themselves and their customers. With the combination of sensors and data-driven insights, NLC systems provide long-term flexibility, energy savings, and a better occupant experience. The use-cases and possibilities are just being discovered, and the future is undoubtedly bright to achieve accelerated growth.