CSR adds meshing to its Bluetooth technology for Internet of Things
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."
The mesh technology is optimised for smart home and IoT applications by combinng a configuration and control protocol with CSR’s existing Bluetooth Smart devices such as the CSR101x and CSR8811. It will allow consumers to control any Bluetooth Smart enabled device in the home from wherever they are, including lighting, heating, appliances and security systems. Crucially for the consumer experience, solutions based on the protocol don’t require the complex setup, pairing, or use of an access device such as a router.
"At the moment the capability is unique to CSR and we are working with lead customers and partners to standardise the capability. Because it is over and above the Bluetooth 4.0 specification it doesn’t require any additional certification but we understand there will be a want and a need for other vendors to participate and we are working with lead customers and in April will extend that, whether by open source or working with the Bluetooth SIG. Both of those routes are open for us," he said.
“We believe this Bluetooth Smart solution will be a real game changer for developers because it means they don’t have to turn to proprietary solutions or add anything else to create products that give consumers what they want – complete home automation they can control from anywhere that ‘just works’,” said Anthony Murray, Senior Vice President, Business Group at CSR.
To ensure developers can get products to market quickly, CSR will be releasing a development kit to customers in April. The kit will offer Android and iOS application source code as well as access to binary CSR Mesh libraries.