Over the past two decades, Bluetooth technology has revolutionised the IoT, adding new capabilities that have enabled innovation and established new markets, from wireless audio to connected devices. And now Bluetooth mesh continues that trend by playing a pivotal role in the development of emerging markets such as smart building, smart industry, smart cities, and smart home. In the year since the release of Bluetooth mesh, more than 65 products with mesh networking capability have been qualified from leading silicon, stack, component, and end product vendors.
Bluetooth mesh networking enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimised for creating large-scale device networks. Designed to meet the scalability, reliability, and security requirements of commercial and industrial environments, Bluetooth mesh is powering smart building and smart industry implementations where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with one another effectively. From factories to hospitals, airports, retail stores, and the home, Bluetooth mesh supports building services that bring real value to owners, operators, and occupants.
“The strategic decision to adopt Bluetooth as the communications platform for our smart home strategy was an obvious choice for us,” said Lijuan Chen, head of Alibaba A.I. Labs. “Bluetooth mesh is a wireless protocol that enables us to meet our customers’ scale, performance, and reliability requirements in the home. Bluetooth is already a proven, trusted, and widely used wireless standard, and we’re confident Bluetooth mesh will be the standard in home and building automation for years to come.”
“Bluetooth mesh is one of a number of fundamental enablers of future IoT markets, allowing for robust, secure and scalable connectivity across the smart home, commercial building automation, industrial environments, and beyond,” said Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer, ABI Research. “Bluetooth mesh, in conjunction with Bluetooth beacons, can propel these environments towards greater automation, increased sensorisation, and enable valuable RTLS services. Nearly 360 million annual Bluetooth Smart Building device shipments are forecasted by 2022.”
Lighting control systems have served as a key use case driving the increase in Bluetooth mesh implementations. A building’s lighting system provides a natural grid through which all devices in a Bluetooth mesh network can pass messages and establish whole-building control, monitoring, and automation systems within a facility. This wireless lighting solution can also function as a platform to enable indoor positioning and location services - including point-of-interest solutions, indoor navigation, asset tracking, and improved space utilisation.
“Bluetooth mesh has fundamentally altered the conversation around connected lighting by providing a complete, high-performing solution that allows lighting to serve a greater purpose in industrial and commercial spaces,” Mark Needham, vice president, european sales at Fulham Co, Inc. “A lighting system that can both help visitors find their way and allow building operators to pinpoint the location of assets within a building or collect a vast range of data from various building sensors for analysis and utilisation is only the beginning of what is possible.”
In one year alone, Bluetooth mesh has paved the way for wireless lighting control solutions and has been a driving force in realising the concept of lighting as a platform. According to ABI Research, annual commercial smart lighting equipment shipments are expected to increase fivefold by 2022.
“We are really excited about the rapid progress our member companies have made using Bluetooth mesh in just one year,” said Mark Powell, executive director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. “The Bluetooth member community dove straight into developing with the new technology, creating a growing list of product innovations that will steer the evolution and direction of commercial and industrial markets for years to come.”