New open standard makes home connection simpler
The lack of joint standards makes home connection of products expensive and awkward. Semcon and Husqvarna have evaluated the new Bluetooth Mesh as part of their GRASS research project. The results show benefits in terms of range, simplicity and economy – and opportunities for broad usage.
We are still waiting for the big breakthrough for connected products in the home. Certainly, many people have their alarms, lawnmowers and sometimes even their lights linked to the Internet nowadays. But these products are often controlled via separate apps and hardware, which makes it difficult for them to talk to one another. It also makes it expensive and awkward for users to manage lots of different solutions.
Bluetooth Mesh is a new standard to be launched in 2017. One big advantage is that this technology uses a communications protocol, Bluetooth, that is already used by all smartphones and lots of other home electronics. So in other words, this solution is robust, secure and inexpensive. Another positive is that Mesh (which means “net”) allows product to be connected together and “borrow” range from one another. Range has been a limitation of Bluetooth so far.
To see how Bluetooth Mesh works under real conditions, Semcon and Husqvarna have implemented a research project by the name of GRASS, which stands for Garden Responsive Actuator and Sensor System. This project has been financed by state body Vinnova.
To make the system as open, scalable and low on power as possible, Bluetooth Low Energy was used in a mesh network that can provide coverage throughout much of the garden. Messages are passed between units in the network until they have all received the information. This means that not all nodes have to be reached by a base unit. This network finds its own accessible route with the help of the devices.
Bluetooth Low Energy Mesh has proven to be highly suitable as an open standard for wireless communication in a garden environment, with certain devices connected to the mains power supply. Measurements show extensive battery life for individual devices and very good range. This technology also appears to offer major opportunities in terms of lighting, ventilation systems and alarms, for instance. The lessons learned and now being incorporated in ongoing product development at Husqvarna and Semcon.