Silicon Labs has rolled out support in its Series 2 Bluetooth SoCs and modules for the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s (SIG) new feature enhancements for Bluetooth Mesh as well as its new Networked Lighting Control (NLC) standard, which seeks to provide a single standard for commercial and industrial lighting using Bluetooth Mesh.
Who Needs It & Why?
Bluetooth Mesh is intended for control, monitoring, and automation systems in which many devices—even thousands—need to communicate with each other. It’s built to meet the tough requirements of commercial and industrial environments.
Moreover, control systems based on Bluetooth Mesh do not need centralized controllers, because intelligence is distributed amongst all end devices. As a result, systems can achieve much greater scale, reliability, and performance at lower cost.
Under the Hood
So, what do the new features in Bluetooth Mesh, which are now supported on Silicon Labs’ Bluetooth SoCs and modules, mean to designers of these systems?
For one, there’s the process of doing device firmware updates. Firmware keeps end devices in peak operating condition, protects against cyberthreats, and leverages the latest network features. But Bluetooth Mesh deployments can be quite large. The new Device Firmware Update feature greatly simplifies this process, enabling network operators to update just one device, which in turn pushes the update to the rest of the network.
In the original iteration of Bluetooth Mesh, network operators had to provision each device individually, a costly, time-consuming, and depending on the environment, sometimes dangerous task. A new Remote Provisioning feature lets the network itself help provision devices without needing an operator to be in direct range of the new device.
There’s also Certificate-Based Provisioning. Which helps to prevent counterfeit devices from infiltrating a network. Unique certificates can be injected into devices during the manufacturing process to help network operators authenticate new network additions.
Finally, Private Beacons enhance network security by using encryption to eliminate static information in beacons being shared outside of the network. This means that devices on the network and their users can no longer be tracked by malicious actors.
These four features are supported on the BG21, BG22, BG24, and BG27 SoCs and modules.
Improved Lighting Interoperability
Bluetooth’s prevalence in daily life is due in large part to its reliance on standards, which lends established trust to the device profiles that initiate connections between various systems and devices. The Bluetooth SIG’s release of its new Network Lighting Control (NLC) bundle of standardized device profiles will improve interoperability andg scalability, simplify integration in the field, and grow the Bluetooth ecosystem. Again, Silicon Labs’ BG21, BG22, BG24, and BG27 SoCs and modules support the following NLC profiles: ambient light sensor, basic scene selector, dimming control, basic lightness controller, and occupancy sensor.