One Year After Launch, Bluetooth Mesh Adoption Surpasses Expectations

One Year After Launch, Bluetooth Mesh Adoption Surpasses Expectations

Wireless mesh networking has been the source of technology and market battles for years in industrial applications. There is one that’s seldom discussed among engineers in this sector, though—Bluetooth. There exists a Bluetooth mesh standard. It’s been out a year. At this point there are more than 65 Qualified Bluetooth Mesh Products.

The dominant application to date is smart lighting systems. Smart home applications are coming along. The Bluetooth SIG talks of other industrial applications. We’ll have to see what develops. If I were an active engineer, I think I would take a look at possibilities. Bluetooth has some longevity and stability. We all use it with our smart devices. Interesting possibilities.

Following is news from the press release. Bluetooth mesh plays a role in the development of emerging markets such as Smart Building, Smart Industry, Smart Cities, and Smart Home. In the year since the release of Bluetooth mesh, more than 65 products with mesh networking capability have been qualified from leading silicon, stack, component, and end product vendors.

Bluetooth mesh networking enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. Designed to meet the scalability, reliability, and security requirements of commercial and industrial environments, Bluetooth mesh is powering smart building and smart industry implementations where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to communicate with one another effectively. From factories to hospitals, airports, retail stores, and the home, Bluetooth mesh supports building services that bring real value to owners, operators, and occupants.

“Bluetooth mesh is one of a number of fundamental enablers of future IoT markets, allowing for robust, secure and scalable connectivity across the smart home, commercial building automation, industrial environments, and beyond,” said Stuart Carlaw, Chief Research Officer, ABI Research. “Bluetooth mesh, in conjunction with Bluetooth beacons, can propel these environments towards greater automation, increased sensorization, and enable valuable RTLS services. Nearly 360 million annual Bluetooth Smart Building device shipments are forecasted by 2022.”

Lighting control systems have served as a key use case driving the increase in Bluetooth mesh implementations. A building’s lighting system provides a natural grid through which all devices in a Bluetooth mesh network can pass messages and establish whole-building control, monitoring, and automation systems within a facility. This wireless lighting solution can also function as a platform to enable indoor positioning and location services – including point-of-interest solutions, indoor navigation, asset tracking, and improved space utilization.

“Bluetooth mesh has fundamentally altered the conversation around connected lighting by providing a complete, high-performing solution that allows lighting to serve a greater purpose in industrial and commercial spaces,” Mark Needham, Vice President, European Sales at Fulham Co, Inc. “A lighting system that can both help visitors find their way and allow building operators to pinpoint the location of assets within a building or collect a vast range of data from various building sensors for analysis and utilization is only the beginning of what is possible.”

In one year alone, Bluetooth mesh has paved the way for wireless lighting control solutions and has been a driving force in realizing the concept of lighting as a platform. According to ABI Research, annual commercial smart lighting equipment shipments are expected to increase fivefold by 2022.

“We are really excited about the rapid progress our member companies have made using Bluetooth mesh in just one year,” said Mark Powell, Executive Director of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. “The Bluetooth member community dove straight into developing with the new technology, creating a growing list of product innovations that will steer the evolution and direction of commercial and industrial markets for years to come.”

Interesting Consolidation in Industrial Cyber Security Market

With last week’s announcement that GE is acquiring Wurldtech, a march of consolidation in the industrial Cyber Security market continues. First Byres (Tofino) Security found itself at Belden. Then last month Industrial Defender announced acquisition by Lockheed Martin.

That is the way of the world for small companies. Sometimes you hit a market that can grow exponentially. But not so much in industrial technology. So, the exit is to find a good suitor.

That leaves exida standing, although it is considerably larger than the other three. And Waterfall. Both, though also are players in industrial safety, as well as security.

Here is the gist of the GE announcement.

GE announced a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Wurldtech, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based company and leader in cyber security solutions. This move is one of several by GE to help protect critical infrastructure and advance cyber security efforts globally for key industries. Wurldtech solutions and services are used in complex environments such as oil refineries, power transmission grids or for individual assets like medical devices or smart meters.

Traditional information technology (IT) approaches for securing systems and data are challenging when applied to the operations technology (OT) world. Wurldtech solutions offer a strategic approach to cyber security that help to better protect the OT that connects people, data and machines–maximizing system uptime and mitigating exposure to vulnerabilities. This acquisition will help to enhance the reliability of Industrial Internet operations, according to GE.

Wurldtech Services

Wurldtech’s technology and professional services are designed to Assess, Protect and Certify. This strategic approach to cyber security is performed using:

  • Achilles Test products to discover operational vulnerabilities in products and critical infrastructure and then assess the root cause
  • Achilles Threat Intelligence product to secure OT networks with an industrial firewall
  • Achilles Communications and Practices Certifications to evaluate device communications and best practices

Wurldtech will retain its name and operate as a wholly owned subsidiary to continue providing the necessary focus on services to its broader customer base. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Industrial Communications Foundations Discuss Potential Merger

Industrial Communications Foundations Discuss Potential Merger

The Manufacturing ConnectionThis is a merger that is not totally surprising, given that the two organizations have significant overlapping membership. Plus one organization is in the midst of a leadership change. On the other hand, there is little overlap in technology and application. So this, if it comes off, will be interesting.

The Fieldbus Foundation and the HART Communication Foundation announced Sept. 25 that they have entered into discussions on the potential for merging the two organizations into a single industry foundation dedicated to the needs of intelligent device communications in the world of process automation.

The chairmen of the two organizations—Dr. Gunther Kegel of the Fieldbus Foundation and Mr. Mark Schumacher of the HART Communication Foundation—issued the following statement on behalf of their Boards of Directors:

“We believe combining the resources and capabilities of each foundation into a single organization will provide significant benefits to both end users and suppliers. For end users, a single organization that combines the power of both Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation would provide a full solution that addresses every conceivable aspect of field communications and intelligent device management for the process industries. For suppliers, a single organization would create efficiencies in resource utilization, consistency of processes and procedures, and would deliver significant improvements in member services and support.”

The Fieldbus Foundation and HART Communication Foundation have worked extensively together in the past and have a long history of cooperation. For example, the two organizations worked together on the development of common international standards such as Electronic Device Description Language (EDDL) and, most recently, the development of the Field Device Integration (FDI) specification. The merger offers potential to harmonize many aspects of the two protocols, making it easier for end users and suppliers to implement the technology and obtain the full benefits of each technology in plant operations and maintenance.

In preliminary discussions, the presidents of the two organizations, Richard J. Timoney of the Fieldbus Foundation and Ted Masters of the HART Communication Foundation, added that many synergies already exist and closed by commenting:

“We are both confident that today’s decision to investigate the merger of these two organizations provides momentum for a major step forward in the evolution of intelligent devices and the world of industrial communications.”