BLE Mesh: The Next Wave of Wireless Bluetooth Technology

The mesh network is a new topology choice for Bluetooth Low Energy. Other protocols implement the Mesh technique as the major feature.
Table of Contents

In the summer of 2017, Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh was accessible. The mesh network is a new topology choice for Bluetooth Low Energy. Due to other wireless protocols, such as Zigbee, implementing the Mesh technique as the major feature and proven by the market, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) embraced the Mesh network to reinforce its dominant position in wireless technology.

A novel mesh networking architecture was created for Bluetooth Low Energy (LE). It makes it possible to communicate on a many-to-many (m:m) basis. It is designed to be applied in the development of extensive node networks.

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BLE Mesh System Architecture

The bottom layer of the Bluetooth mesh architecture stack is called Bluetooth LE. In actuality, the Bluetooth LE stack as a whole, which is necessary to deliver the core wireless communications capabilities that the mesh architecture depends on, is what this is rather than just one layer of the mesh architecture. It should go without saying that the mesh network depends on a Bluetooth LE stack being available.

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BLE Mesh Characteristics

New Devices Need to be Provisioned Into A BLE Mesh as a Node

Nodes are gadgets that are a member of a BLE mesh network, whereas “unprovisioned devices” are gadgets that are not. “Provisioning” is the process of transforming an unprovisioned device into a node. Think about getting a brand-new Bluetooth lamp that supports BLE mesh, bringing it home, and configuring it.

It needs to be provisioned before joining your BLE mesh network and managed by your current Bluetooth light switches and dimmers. A BLE gateway or smartphone commonly serves as the provisioner device. Provisioning is a secure process that makes an unprovisioned device known to the provisioner device. One of these keys is the network key, also known as NetKey. The Security section below has more information on mesh security.

Every node in a BLE mesh network has at least one NetKey, and by possessing this key, a device is considered a node and a member of the corresponding network. Before a node is regarded as a crucial initial step, more requirements must be satisfied. In a subsequent portion of this paper, we’ll go into more detail about the provisioning procedure.

Elements

Some nodes contain several constituent elements, each of which can be managed independently. These components are referred to as elements in Bluetooth mesh terminology.

Full-Stack for Faster Product Development

Bluetooth mesh, in contrast to other low-power wireless mesh networking technologies, is a full-stack solution that defines everything from the low-level physical radio layer to the high-level application layer. This full-stack strategy enables faster and more seamless technological progress, easier product development, and higher levels of product interoperability. Bluetooth mesh has complete control over its fate.

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Pub/Sub Addressing for Reducing Messaging Traffic

Most other wireless mesh communications solutions employ individual device addressing, which is best suited for wired networks with mostly unicast traffic. However, in wireless networks with extensive multicast traffic, such as lighting control systems, it can cause severe scale and performance concerns. In addition to individual device addressing, Bluetooth mesh includes a unique publish/subscribe (pub/sub) addressing scheme for multicast traffic.

In pub/sub, devices such as light switches publish their messages to a group address, such as a conference room. That group includes all devices that should receive that message, such as the conference room lights. The pub/sub strategy reduces messaging traffic on the network dramatically, allowing for larger network size and performance.

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Decentralized Control

Bluetooth mesh has fully embraced the intelligent edge. Control systems based on Bluetooth mesh do not require centralized controllers because intelligence is spread to all end devices. In the case of a Bluetooth mesh lighting control system.

Switches and sensors, for example, do not interact with a centralized controller that controls the lights but rather with the lights themselves. This decentralized control design enables systems to attain significantly greater scale, dependability, and performance while decreasing costs.

Managed Flood Relay for Scalability

When the source and destination nodes are not in direct range of one another, messages must be relayed by other nodes in the network. In wireless networks, especially those with multicast traffic, emulating historical routing algorithms used in wired networks can cause major reliability, scale, and performance concerns.

To address this issue, Bluetooth mesh uses a managed flood message relay mechanism that is perfect for wireless networks, allowing them to scale to thousands of nodes while retaining excellent performance and reliability.

BLE Mesh Application on Lighting Control

Home Assistant Bluetooth Mesh Landscape Lighting Control

Currently, a mature Bluetooth mesh lighting control solution is implemented in the Smart Farming and smart lighting industry centralized with the Dusun Bluetooth gateway and BLE mesh module. Regarding the smart farming industry, Dusun IoT launched a solution called “Home Assistant Bluetooth Mesh Grow Lighting Solution”. It includes a BLE mesh gateway and other BLE mesh-based end devices like temperature and humidity sensors, light, and smart plugs. As all the devices are part of the whole mesh network, the customer could easily monitor the growth of plants and adjust the environment status, such as lighting strength or ambient temperature.

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This BLE Mesh home assistant landscape lighting solution contains two critical parts, the Dusun Bluetooth Gateway and various end BLE Mesh devices. The BLE Mesh solution’s primary series of gateways are DSGW-210 Home Assistant Gateway. DSGW-210 is an IoT gateway with BLE Mesh protocols and edge computing functions. It provides reliable connectivity for a wide range of wireless IoT devices. The gateway’s modular architecture allows customization of many gateway features, providing an off-the-shelf solution that meets your exact needs.

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The central part of each endpoint BLE Mesh device is the DSM-055 BLE mesh module. It has 2.4 GHz wireless SOCs optimized for line-powered Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth mesh applications, including connected lighting, smart plugs, gateways, and voice assistants. An 80 MHz ARM® Cortex®-M33(EFR32BG21A010F768IM32-B) core provides plenty of processing capability, while an integrated security subsystem provides leading security features that greatly reduce the risk of IoT security breaches and compromised intellectual property.

Bluetooth Mesh Lighting Control for Smart Home and Building Automation

As for the Bluetooth mesh lighting solution, we provide a solution called “Bluetooth Mesh Lighting Control Solution”. It contains a complete set of lighting components, including drivers, switches, sensors, and lamp controllers. With Dusun BLE Mesh gateway as a core, users can build simple to complex smart lighting products and flexibly choose the desired features to match customer requirements.

The core hardware of this solution is DSGW-030. It is a gateway product used in the smart home, intelligent security industry, and pension services. It is a central device that supports multiple wireless protocols, including WiFi and zigbee3.0, BLE, and Z-WAVE.

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BLE Mesh Open Source Add-On

Dusun IoT develops an open-source Home Assistant add-on for BLE mesh lighting control applications. It supports Dusun’s gateway hardware platforms. The DSGW-210 is equipped with an RK3328 chip and a Linux Debian operating system. Python was used to create the add-on, which communicates with the BLE mesh stack using ZeroMQ.

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Best of all, it’s an open-source add-on that you can further develop to meet your specific requirements. If you require open source code, please contact us via email or through our official website.

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Advantages and Values

From a performance standpoint, our products are designed for professional lighting applications with enterprise-grade reliability, scalability, and security. The solution reduces energy costs by adding controls to lighting systems by providing the right amount of light when needed and reducing lighting loads when appropriate through schedules, commands, or sensor triggers. DUSUN’s open standard BLE Mesh API allows customers’ systems to quickly access BLE Mesh lighting control components.

Regarding applicability, DUSUN’s solutions are certified by the Bluetooth SIG. Customers’ components will work with qualified Bluetooth mesh devices from other vendors. In addition, it can interface with third-party lighting control APPs and applications, allowing the lighting control to be integrated into any control system required by the customer. These moves save time and money from the hassle of finding compatible devices.

The highlight of the solution is the BLE mesh module we could provide. Users can easily implement this module on their non-wireless end device to make it join the mesh network. Therefore, based on this ‘gateway & mesh module’ plan, users can easily integrate the BLE mesh technology in any industry. More importantly, the14mm * 20mm size of this module contributes to the great portability of this whole solution.

Customers can choose the module’s firmware by themselves and conduct secondary development in combination with API and SDK according to the required business logic. For customers, use the least cost and get the most suitable solution for their business.

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