up to 32,000 networked devices
Power supply required
compatible chipset as a prerequisite
Mesh Beacons differ from “conventional” Bluetooth devices in that they no longer only know point-to-point connections, such as between smartphone and soundbox, but can establish so-called many-to-any connections using the mesh network protocol. And that is to be taken literally. The data packets can not only be routed via one or two devices, but the SIG specification for Bluetooth LE mesh provides for 32,000 networked devices. That would be far more than the established automation protocols such as ZigBee and Z-Wave could handle. Beacons are taking another step away from retail-only solutions towards a true key IoT technology. This ability, which results in a wider range, makes Mesh Beacons extremely interesting in the areas of smart building and asset tracking. The fact that Ruud van Bokhorst, a representative of Philips Lighting, has been a member of the SIG Board of Directors since 1 July, can therefore also be explained or – sorry – makes sense immediately. For example, the Dutch have added BLE to their high-precision indoor navigation system based on light (VLC/IPS). Only as an “embedded” beacon, i.e. installed directly in the luminaire – or any other device with a mains connection – can BLE mesh show its full strength. Because mesh capability is at the expense of power consumption. And according to SIG, only line-current driven components can be used as “repeaters”, as the nodes that forward the information in a meshed network. With embedded beacons it would be possible to build a fully meshed network in which every beacon can serve as a repeater. Also in asset tracking – the real-time tracking of goods – the assets equipped with Bluetooth LE mesh beacons would be part of a meshed network in which ideally all nodes are networked together. This so-called flooding, in which each device shares its information with every other device, is much more energy-efficient than methods in which the information is transmitted via a central router due to the lower computing and storage power.
Blocked connections could also be automatically bypassed, increasing reliability. In contrast, the number of smart beacons or controllers that had previously been required to record the BLE signals and forward them to the cloud or to a server would be reduced. Over the Air Updates, where updated firmware is forwarded from Beacon to Beacon, are also possible.