Creation of ubiquitous networks featuring low power consumption without sacrificing necessary functionality is one of the biggest challenges facing the Internet of Things (IoT). If it faces down this challenge, the expansive vision of the IoT has a chance of being realized. If not, the IoT could devolve to localized pockets of connectivity without the ability to communicate with each other.
This is a vital area. The good news is that three announcements touching on IoT networking were made during the past couple of weeks.
In what could be a big deal down the road, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) said that the platform now supports mesh networking. Bluetooth is ubiquitous and could significantly improve the odds that the IoT meets marketers’ rosy predictions. The press release suggests Bluetooth’s potential now is that it offers the mesh capability:
It is ideally suited for building automation, sensor networks and other IoT solutions where tens, hundreds, or thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another.
The functionality is available on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Bluetooth version 4.0 and higher, the press release says.
The announcement by the Bluetooth SIG was anticipated by the announcement last week of the formation of Nodle.io. TechCrunch details the initiative, which aims to have the same goal as the Bluetooth SIG. The company, which has offices in San Francisco and Hong Kong, will support the IoT through Bluetooth-based mesh networking. Whether Nodle.io’s approach depends on the functionality the Bluetooth SIG is introducing is unclear. The point, however, is that Bluetooth is positioning itself as a valuable IoT platform.
Companies are also taking up the challenge. The third announcement is that Comcast is launching its machineQ platform in 12 additional markets. The network, which uses technology from Semtech, is already active in Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area and Chicago. The new markets are Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Washington, D.C.
The goal is to support businesses and municipalities. So far, the company says that it has gotten expressions of interest from organizations in health care, public utilities, automotive and smart cities sectors.
The IoT faces two key challenges: the creation of adequate networks and security. Security is inherently more dramatic and has gotten most of the headlines. The Comcast and Bluetooth SIG announcements and the Nodle.io launch suggest that attention is being paid to networking challenges, as well.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.