In case you weren’t aware, we’re in the middle of a vicious power struggle over your home… well smart home that is. Wireless standards are constantly fighting to be the one and only to connect all of your smart home devices, and as of today, Bluetooth has positioned itself as a serious contender. Almost a year after unveiling Bluetooth 5, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced support for mesh networking. This technology allows for low-power, many-to-many device communications and promises to enhance use cases including smart homes, offices, and industrial Internet of Things applications.
For those unfamiliar with mesh networking, here’s a bit of a run-down. With most wireless networks, communications go straight from one point to another, like your router to the computer and back again. With that approach, your wireless connection is no match for long distances. With mesh networks, wireless communications are able to hop between devices, so if at first, you’re connection is too far out of reach, the signal can be relayed through other access points and devices.
The primary force driving Bluetooth 5 was increased speed and range over the existing Bluetooth 4.2 LE. Bluetooth 5 is able to deliver roughly twice the speed of its predecessor, four times the range, and eight times the message-broadcasting ability. With the release of Bluetooth Mesh, The Bluetooth SIG is expecting a wide range of devices to being using Mesh in the future although the technology won’t require all devices on a network to be able to rebroadcast signals.
The new Bluetooth Mesh technology won’t be available to all Bluetooth devices overnight though. Mesh capabilities can only be added to devices that already support either Bluetooth 4.0 or 5.0. While this means that new hardware isn’t required, whether or not current devices support the technology will fall on the manufacturers and future updates. Even though some devices won’t be available for an upgrade, Bluetooth is already preparing to allow some mesh products to act as proxies that allow Bluetooth products to connect and control devices on the network.