2015 Bluetooth seminar taking place in Taiwan last month focused on the potential of Bluetooth applications and the development of Bluetooth technologies in the near future. Several famous SoC companies, such as Airoha, Airyzone, CSR, Nordic and ST, had joined the discussion by sharing their Bluetooth solutions which helps create profitable IoT and smart home applications.
New features of Bluetooth 4.2
According to Bluetooth SIG's introduction of the newly released Bluetooth 4.2 profile (BT4.2), the standard supports IPv6/ 6LoWPAN and Bluetooth Smart Internet Gateway which enables IP-based connectivity. At the same time, the level of information security is enhanced by utilizing 128-bit AES encryption while the speed of data streaming is 2.5 times faster than former Bluetooth versions. Combining these features with the low energy consumption ability, the newest profile greatly facilitates the growth of innovative BLE/Bluetooth Smart applications.
The Standardization of Mesh
“In smart home arena, the mesh technology (proposed by the Bluetooth member company CSR, who has began to provide its own mesh solutions since last year,) will be included in the Bluetooth’s profile which is to be released in 2016,” declared Lori Lee, Senior Marketing Manager for APAC of Bluetooth SIG. “We have set up the Bluetooth Smart Mesh Working Group that works on the standardization of Bluetooth mesh. Now the working group has gathered more than 100 member companies.”
Jerry Yang, Field Application Director at CSR plc, explained that the smart mesh standard aims to deal with the limitations of Bluetooth communication where one device cannot communicate with multiple devices simultaneously, and the range of P2P communication is only within 20~50 meters.
Within this mesh network, users are allowed to install and control up to 64,000 BLE devices from 100 meters to several kilometers away. These devices can be grouped together and flexibly deployed, and multiple users can access or control one to several devices at the same time. Because it does not require a hub/access point to control devices in a mesh network (unless users need to remotely control devices via a cloud), the shutdown of any device would not cause interference with the network. The data are transmitted at 2.4GHz frequency via three channels, which also ensures stability of streaming, and the networking can co-exist fairly with Wi-Fi.
As for the software support, CSR has created an APP that supports 122 of models (functions) for its own mesh applications, including lighting and switch, and one device can be categorized into several models according to its purpose of use. In the second version of this APP which is going to be released Q3 this year, more models, such as heating, temperature sensor and air conditioning, are to be available as well. These models can be modified after Bluetooth SIG releases the official BLE mesh profile.
Solutions Using Bluetooth
SoC companies shared their Bluetooth-based products which can help create innovative applications. STMicroelectronics presented their BlueNRG (BLE 4.0 single-mode network processor) where the BLE stack to run on the embedded Cortex M0 core, allowing clients to focus on development of IOT applications.
Nordic Semiconductor promoted their IPv6 over BLE (4.1) solution at the seminar. With this solution, devices with BLE connectivity can directly communicate with a smartphone or other devices without intervention of a gateway.
Arizon demonstrated its Mobile Beacon solution which can work with a cloud service which analyzes the message detected by various beacons via Arizon's SDK and broadcast the notifications on APP.
Airoha Technology declared that it will release new Bluetooth 4.2 dual mode products, aiming for media entertainment applications in the home.
Texas Instruments displayed the smart gateway which supports Ethernet, Wi-Fi, BLE, ZigBee and Z-Wave, permitting clients a flexible way to create IOT solutions.