IPv6 protocol gives “Bluetooth to Internet, on a chip”, from Nordic

December 18, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Nordic Semiconductor’s IPv6 over Bluetooth Smart protocol stack for its nRF51 Series SoCs puts, Nordic says, Bluetooth-direct-to-Internet connectivity - “Thing-to-cloud” - on one chip at micro-amp power levels, enabling small, low cost, ultra-low power Internet of Things applications.

Now available for download, the nRF51 IoT Software Development Kit (SDK) is a complete IPv6-ready Internet Protocol Suite for Nordic's nRF51 Series Bluetooth Smart SoCs. The SDK enables native and interoperable IP-based connectivity between a Bluetooth Smart 'thing' and a cloud service. It also enables Bluetooth Smart to be used in large, distributed, cloud-connected, heterogeneous networks such as home, industrial, and enterprise automation.

Nordic sees a particular market opportunity in what it calls the “Internet of (my) Things”; of things around us that don't necessarily belong to use but that “notice” us – the emerging market in beacons being an example. For such devices, the company sees an urgent need for a “headless router” - some means of enabling devices (nodes or 'things’) to operate directly to Internet without the intervention of bridges or gateways.

Building on the newly adopted Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP) from the Bluetooth SIG and 6LoWPAN technology from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), Nordic’s SDK takes Bluetooth Smart with Nordic's nRF51 Series and IoT to the next level by enabling end-to-end IP based communication. This also enables security to be implemented (relatively) easily, Nordic adds; existing Bluetooth security measures protect the Bluetooth part of the link, while established Internet security standards can be applied in the end-to-end, Internet portion.

The scope includes large-scale, distributed, cloud-connected, heterogeneous network deployments relevant to smart home, industrial, and enterprise automation applications, logistics, access control, and cloud services that can be completely agnostic to the fact the ‘last mile’ technology is enabled by Bluetooth Smart wireless technology, enabling a direct communication between the service and the ‘thing’.

Native IP means that Bluetooth Smart ‘things’ can communicate with each other via ‘headless’ routers and the Internet. It also means that a Bluetooth Smart ‘thing’ can communicate with things using other IPv6-enabled wired or wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, ZigBee IP, and Thread, to form a heterogeneous network.