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By Rich Handley

Bluetooth Special Interest Group Forms New Smart Home Subgroup

In response to the increased adoption of Bluetooth mesh networking in smart-home solutions, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced the formation of a new Smart Home Subgroup. The announcement follows the decision from a growing number of firms to adopt Bluetooth mesh networking as a strategic communications protocol for smart-home solutions.

The Smart Home Subgroup has been established to create additional Bluetooth mesh model specifications for smart-home and related applications. Mesh models constitute the application layer of Bluetooth mesh networking and define the behavior of devices connected to a Bluetooth mesh network. For example, mesh models define how a Bluetooth mesh light is controlled by a Bluetooth mesh switch. Like all Bluetooth technology specifications, the mesh models developed by this subgroup will be available to all member companies for use in conjunction with the Bluetooth mesh-networking specifications, thereby enabling multi-vendor interoperability in the smart home.

"Bluetooth mesh models play a very important role in strengthening the connectivity and interoperability among smart home devices," said Dapeng Liu, the chair of the Bluetooth SIG Smart Home Subgroup and Alibaba's senior standardization expert, in a prepared statement. "The Smart Home Subgroup provides a forum for the community to standardize the mesh model solutions, and Alibaba is happy to be working with other member companies on mesh model development."

More than 60 member companies are participating in the new Smart Home Subgroup, including Alibaba, GCT Semiconductor, Lierda, MediaTek, Midea Group IoT Co., Nordic Semiconductor, Novel Bits, S-Labs, Telink Semiconductor, Synopsys, UL Verification Services and Xiaomi.

"In developing our IoT solutions for smart home, we need the reliable, high performing, and scalable connectivity that the Bluetooth mesh wireless standard supports," said Miffy Chen, the VP of Alibaba Group and GM of Tmall Genie, in the prepared statement. "Those elements, combined with the existing trust and wide application of Bluetooth across the globe, has given it a unique advantage in support of our smart home strategy."

"For the smart home market to grow, it needs true global wireless mesh networking standards that can meet the reliability, security, and performance needs of the market," added Dian Fan, the general manager of Xiaomi IoT Platform, in the statement. "We're confident that Bluetooth mesh is one of those standards and will enable tremendous growth and innovation in home automation for years to come."

"Bluetooth mesh is one of most suitable IoT protocols for smart home and building. It facilitates flexible deployment of smart device networks with elastic extension and lower latency, and thus brings better user experiences with rich smart life scenes," said Zhiguo Bi, the deputy general manager of Midea Group IoT Co., in the statement. "Midea Group is promoting vigorously the Bluetooth mesh based total solution for the smart home."

"Going from traditional one-to-one into many-to-many device communications, Bluetooth mesh brings in a revolutionary change," added Alan Hsu, the general manager of MediaTek's Intelligent Connectivity business unit, in the statement. "From smart lighting, smart home, smart building to smart city, the possibility for Bluetooth mesh is limitless. With the proliferation of voice assistant devices and AIoT everywhere, we're continuing to invest in Bluetooth mesh technology development to meet the rapidly growing demand for advanced connectivity and truly intelligent smart home experiences."

Launched in July 2017, Bluetooth mesh was created to enable the deployment of large-scale device-networking solutions, such as those used in control, monitoring and automation systems. Bluetooth mesh technology was developed from the beginning to meet the strict reliability, security and performance needs of industrial and commercial markets. Since its launch, more than 105 products with Bluetooth mesh networking capability have been qualified from silicon, stack, component and end-product vendors, the organization reports.

"The release of Bluetooth mesh networking and the recent formation of the Smart Home Subgroup are important milestones in the development of the smart home market," said Mark Powell, Bluetooth SIG's executive director, in the prepared statement. "For over a decade, Bluetooth has been the global wireless standard for the connected home, connecting everything from appliances and entertainment systems to tools, toys, and even toothbrushes. Now with mesh networking support, Bluetooth is in a position to help the home automation market reach mass scale."

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