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BLE-enabled HomeBridge Brings Beacons to Home Automation

IoT solutions company Volansys has released early versions of its new HomeBridge gateway with built-in BLE 5.0 mesh-capable technology, to enable the integration of BLE devices, beacons and badges into an existing home- or building-intelligence system.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 04, 2018

Volansys Technologies, located in Santa Clara, Calif., has built Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) functionality into its HomeBridge home-automation solutions gateway, enabling BLE devices, beacon tags and mobile phones to be integrated seamlessly using the company's gateway. The latest version of the HomeBridge IoT gateway will be released during the coming year to support BLE 5.0 transmissions, and to forward beacon data, along with existing support for Wi-Fi-to ZigBee-based gateway transmissions.

The company already sells a $99 kit that includes the HomeBridge device, along with ZigBee-enabled smart bulbs, door sensors and motion sensors for evaluation. The HomeBridge solution was first released in mid-2017 to provide a low-cost ZigBee-to-Wi-Fi IoT gateway solution.

The square, hockey puck-sized gateway—which measures 56 millimeters (2.2 inches) across and 33 millimeters (1.3 inches) thick—can be installed in a home by using a default wall-outlet mounting option. It can be further customized to support desktop mount options. The gateway can then connect with up to 40 devices, and can bridge that data to a user's cloud-based server. The gateway can be leveraged by device manufacturers and solution providers. For device manufacturers, "gateway manufacturing and cloud integration isn't their forte," says Dhruvesh Patel, Volansys's CTO.

The HomeBridge is intended to provide a more generic solution for all smart devices in a home system, so that IoT data can be collected on a single platform. "We wanted a gateway that could be used in any home and bridge any devices to the cloud," Patel explains, without heavy computing at the edge. The gateways simply capture ZigBee- and Wi-Fi-based data, then forward that information to the cloud, where the management of data can take place. He adds that a growing number of IoT companies are offering niche solutions for applications ranging from security to home entertainment and lighting.

Since the HomeBridge's 2017 release, Volansys has been examining ways in which it could leverage other technologies. The result is the inclusion of BLE. Last year, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) released BLE 5.0 for mesh-networking applications in building and home automation (see Bluetooth SIG Specification Enables BLE Mesh Networks).

There are a host of use cases for the gateway and BLE transmissions, Patel says, such as light switches. Intelligent lighting is enabling some of the most common use cases, he adds, to manage the level of lighting within a given space and at particular times.

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