Bluetooth Smart mesh network lighting platform claims to be 5x faster

29-01-2015 | Nordic | Design Applications

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that Finnish smart lighting specialist, Casambi Technologies Oy, is employing Nordic nRF51822 System-on-Chip (SoCs) to provide the Bluetooth Smart (formerly known as Bluetooth low energy) wireless connectivity in its third-party Bluetooth Smart lighting control platform. The platform is claimed to offer at least five times faster mesh networking performance compared to competing Bluetooth Smart solutions by leveraging the unique dual wireless protocol architecture of the Nordic Bluetooth Smart / proprietary 2.4GHz nRF51822 SoCs.

In operation, the Casambi solution can be integrated into standard lighting fixtures or directly into LED smart bulbs and drivers, and doesn't require any new wiring, switches, devices, or networks and configuration beyond plugging in the lighting fixture or Casambi-enabled LED bulb and pairing it to a Bluetooth Smart Ready smartphone or tablet. Casambi says users can then control their lights from an app with an intuitive and visual user interface.

"The mesh network performance of our solution is at least five times better than any competing Bluetooth Smart mesh networking solution currently available on the market," said Timo Pakkala, CEO, Casambi, "and has only been possible to achieve because of the unique dual wireless protocol architecture of the Nordic nRF51822 SoCs."

In operation, Casambi says its solution communicates with smartphones using Bluetooth Smart wireless technology, but switches to highly-optimized, stripped-down proprietary 2.4GHz wireless technology using the Nordic nRF51822's maximum 2Mbps radio's raw data rate (in proprietary mode) for internal network communications between lighting fixtures and bulbs that yields a higher bit-rate mesh network performance.

The nRF51822 SoC is a Bluetooth Smart and proprietary 2.4GHz wireless solution optimized for ULP wireless connectivity. The SoC integrates a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio, 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor, up to 256kB flash memory, and up to 32kB random access memory (RAM). The nRF51822 SoC's software architecture also features a unique and powerful separation between wireless protocol software ('stack') and user application code that allows each to function independently of the other for maximum flexibility and ease-of-development.

"Using the Nordic nRF51822 means our solution offers the best of both worlds," continued Pakkala. "It offers all the compatibility, ease-of-use, and consumer usability of Bluetooth Smart wireless technology, underpinned by a ruthlessly application-specific, stripped-down, optimized proprietary 2.4GHz wireless protocol designed to offer maximum mesh-networking performance in this application."

Casambi says it has also embedded a lot of Internet of Things-type functionality into its solution including: automatic over-the-air firmware and software updates for the whole network, cloud configuration and monitoring services, advanced security with different levels of access, multi-user support, real-time clock and timer functions with local sun set and rise times, generic event-action rule support at network level (if-then-and-or etc.), and location-based functionality support.

Pakkala added: "The move to LEDs as a light source holds the promise of truly adjustable lighting. Dimming, colour, and colour temperature can be controlled to change the way interiors look and feel, while supporting more subtle effects to boost alertness or to help to relax, for example.

"But the simple on/off light switch remains a bottleneck. Dimming controls aren't standardized or widely deployed. That's why we call typical lighting 'accidental'. Consumers buy a light bulb or a fixture and in practice have no idea if the light be too bright or dim, not to talk about other attributes, like colour temperature.

"Casambi is offering lighting control solutions for the lighting industry that help to bring adjustable lighting to mainstream consumers. We work together with our partners to create an integrated solution that is elegant, practical and affordable with a delightful and modern smartphone user experience."

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