CSR adds meshing to its Bluetooth technology for Internet of Things

February 26, 2014 // By Nick Flaherty
Engineers at CSR in Cambridge have developed a mesh networking layer on top of Bluetooth to control thousands of low cost devices via a smartphone.

The proprietary technology sits entirely on top of standard Bluetooth 4.0 and so can be used with certifed Bluetooth phones and nodes. CSR is looking at whether to provide it as open source or work with the Bluetooth standards group.
The software layer is designed to place the smartphone at the centre of the Internet of Things for the first time allowing an almost unlimited number of Bluetooth Smart enabled devices to be simply networked together and controlled directly from a single smartphone, tablet or PC.
This doesn't use the latest 4.1 standard but is compliant, says Paul Williamson, director of low power wireless at CSR. "This really changes the scale, not just to 8 to 10 connections but to thousands," he said. "It doesn’t actually use 4.1 features, this uses 4.0 but we are extending smart for it to cover a mesh topology. The feature set of 4.1 was much more targeted to health and fitness with a smart watch connecting to a few sensors and a slave mode to the smartphone. This is leaning more to the IoT with a flood mesh rather than a routed mesh and that’s different from technologies like Zigbee. In this mesh all of the devices can participate as members of the mesh and forward messages onto other nodes and that means its very simple for a consumer set up - they will automatically handle the forwarding of messages. The originator of the message can be anywhere within the mesh and it is relayed to nodes that are out of range. To handle saturation and contention the protocol includes features time of like and number of hops."