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Fashion retailer Brownie signs agreement with Nedap for cloud-based RFID software ••• TMR Research report says RFID revolutionizing pharmaceutical industry ••• Harland Simon launches new Wi-Fi RFID reader ••• Silicon Labs' Bluetooth Mesh solution helps IoT developers cut time to market ••• Toshiba BLE products now support Bluetooth Mesh standard.
By Rich Handley

Silicon Labs' Bluetooth Mesh Solution Helps IoT Developers Cut Time to Market

To help developers simplify the design of mesh-networked devices for the Internet of Things (IoT) and get to market faster, Silicon Labs has introduced a suite of software and hardware that supports the new Bluetooth mesh specification. The new Bluetooth mesh solution includes development tools, a software stack and mobile apps supporting Silicon Labs' wireless system-on-chip (SoC) devices and certified modules. The combination of Silicon Labs' network-analysis tools and Bluetooth mesh stack for smartphones, the company reports, enables IoT developers to cut time to market by up to six months, compared to existing wireless development tools and techniques.

Bluetooth mesh devices are suitable for smart home, lighting, beaconing and asset-tracking applications. A mesh network enables devices, such as connected lights, to be deployed at greater distances from a hub or gateway. As each light is deployed, the communication range increases, allowing a single gateway to cover an area larger than one that is simply covered by a star network topology. In retail marketing and asset-tracking applications, Bluetooth mesh technology simplifies the deployment and management of beacons. By combining Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) with mesh networking, new capabilities and value can be introduced into devices such as connected lights, which can also serve as beacons or beacon scanners.

"Bluetooth is the next frontier in mesh networking, and Silicon Labs' new Bluetooth mesh software and tools keep us at the forefront of this rapidly emerging 'many-to-many' network topology," said Richard Baxter, President and CEO of Mesh Systems, an IoT software, services and solution provider, in a prepared statement. "From easy-to-use development kits to mobile applications that help us connect devices seamlessly, we rely on Silicon Labs' deep expertise in mesh technology to give us the hardware and software resources we need to increase productivity and speed development time so our customers can better compete in today's IoT race."

Silicon Labs' Bluetooth mesh solution includes a suite of development tools and wireless devices. The firm's certified wireless modules and SoCs include the BGM11S Bluetooth system-in-package (SiP) module and EFR32BG13 Blue Gecko SoCs. Modules with integrated antennas allow users to design Bluetooth mesh-enabled products. Blue Gecko SoCs offer large memory options to support over-the-air (OTA) updates, as well as hardware security acceleration, capacitive sensing, low-power sensor interfaces and enhanced RF performance.

Silicon Labs' mobile application for smartphones allows designers to verify the operation of Bluetooth mesh-based implementations with a commercially supported Bluetooth mesh library and source code to streamline design. Users can optimize mesh-networking device designs with Silicon Labs' Simplicity Studio software tools, including network-analysis and packet-trace technology, as well as energy profiling and visual application configuration. Software compatibility across Silicon Labs' portfolio of wireless SoCs and modules enables broad software reuse.

"We expect to see a wave of new devices hit the market quickly by leveraging ubiquitous Bluetooth connectivity to create hub-less mesh networks that extend the range and reliability of Bluetooth systems," said Daniel Cooley, Silicon Labs' senior VP and general manager of IoT products, in a prepared statement. "No matter which mesh technology developers choose to power their next IoT designs, we offer a complete portfolio of silicon, software and solutions that gives device makers everything they need to accelerate time to market while designing secure, robust mesh networks."

Silicon Labs' Bluetooth mesh software development tools and software stack are available now, free of charge, to customers with registered Bluetooth mesh development kits from Silicon Labs. Wireless Gecko SoCs, Bluetooth modules and wireless starter kits for Bluetooth mesh applications are available from Silicon Labs and its authorized distributors.

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