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In another article, we discussed the origin of the moniker for Bluetooth technology. If you haven't read it, make sure you do. We also talked about the first two iterations of Bluetooth tech—Bluetooth BR/EDR (Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate) and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy)—as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Bluetooth for Lighting and More

Steve Maurer, IME
In another article, we discussed the origin of the moniker for Bluetooth technology. If you haven't read it, make sure you do.

We also talked about the first two iterations of Bluetooth tech—Bluetooth BR/EDR (Basic Rate/Enhanced Data Rate) and Bluetooth LE (Low Energy)—as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

While both are good and useful technologies, they fall a bit short for covering large, complex areas, and multiple device types and number. Enter the new kid on the block: Bluetooth Wireless Mesh.

While Bluetooth BR/EDR was capable of only one-to-one relationships, and Bluetooth LE upped the ante by allowing one-to-many connections, Bluetooth Mesh takes it to a whole new level: many-to-many connections, sometime denoted by m:m.

Some devices on the network act as relays to other devices that are not in direct radio range of the originating device. This means the network can span very large physical structures. And it can include a large number of devices of different types.

According to the Bluetooth® blog (yes … there's a blog), there were several reasons for developing the Mesh technology, including:

  • Coverage of very large areas
  • “Just works interoperability”
  • The ability to monitor and control large numbers of devices
  • Optimized, low energy consumption
  • Efficient use of radio resources, leading to scalability
  • Compatibility with currently available smartphone, tablet and personal computer products
  • Industry-standard, government-grade security
Low power devices can be included in the network. Their power consumption is kept low by using AC powered devices that handle the heavy lifting. Low power devices operating on battery power can be designated as low-power nodes. They merely transmit and receive data, like on/off state, and temperature.

Powered devices are called "friends" (love the naming conventions), and they keep all kinds of information related to security, commands, and more.

The sensors occasionally transmit and receive, conserving battery power. But their "friends" do all the major network, uh, work.

Low power sensors can be grouped by function or locale. "Steve's Office" or "garden lights" or "garage." The grouping potential is almost limitless.

The friendly network takes care of delivering the right messages at the right time.

What about security?
At first I was concerned. After all, the entire system could be and is often controlled by an app on a smartphone or tablet. And commissioning the system is often done that way.

Then I thought about it again. My own home Bluetooth network can be controlled by a phone. I often do that when away from the house.

But even if someone else had the Alexa app on their phone, mine is protected by passwords and such. Protected by, in a word, encryption.

And commercial systems have even more robust security measures.

So, should you want to use Bluetooth Mesh to monitor and control your business, that means you'd need all new fixtures, right?

Not so.

Retrofit kits can quickly and easily be installed in existing fixtures. LED fixtures work best. But many other types can be retrofitted, too.

There's a lot more information you can and should get as your contemplating this type of retrofit or even when starting new construction. Find an expert and get all your burning questions answered.

Bluetooth wireless control.

Something to check out for sure.
Built for Contractors, Designed for the Field
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