The old adage, “There’s strength in numbers,” applies to more than just herds of buffalo and pesky schoolyard bullies. In manufacturing, the widespread adoption of a specific technology can help streamline production and provide a stable
platform for that technology to grow and improve.
One example of this is the unmatched adoption of Bluetooth wireless technology over the past two decades. Thanks to its billions of daily users worldwide, it has created a trusted, high-quality communication structure for everything from portable speakers
to medical devices.
That’s why when Intermatic began developing its ARISTA® Advanced Lighting Control System, one wireless technology stood above the rest: Bluetooth mesh.
Understanding Bluetooth mesh
Among all the low-powered wireless technologies available for commercial lighting applications, Bluetooth mesh continues to thrive and grow in popularity. That’s not surprising, considering the many real-world advantages the technology provides
to a networked lighting platform like ARISTA, including energy efficiency, security, reliability and economies of scale.
From a baseline practical standpoint, Bluetooth mesh is the ideal technology for commercial lighting.
The versatile wireless technology has been around for over 20 years, continually evolving to address new applications and markets. Since Bluetooth technology is built into every mobile device on the market, nearly any iPhone or Android device can become
a highly intuitive lighting commissioning tool (via an app).
Here’s what this looks like in practice, using ARISTA as an example.
During setup, the Bluetooth radio in the installer’s smartphone connects to the ARISTA local lighting network, while the cellular radio connects to the ARISTA cloud to store system configuration data and to download system updates. This allows all aspects of installation, commissioning and daily use to be completed without a gateway or hub.
Beyond having the ability to commission ARISTA with any mobile device, there is another important advantage to employing a ubiquitous wireless technology like Bluetooth mesh. With an estimated 5.4 billion Bluetooth platform and device shipments expected
in 2023 alone, ARISTA customers benefit from economies of scale starting at the chip level, from both a supply chain and cost perspective.
Reliability at scale
Bluetooth mesh networks feature a “distributed control architecture,” meaning there is no need for a dedicated site controller or central hub to manage the installation, as each device on the network can communicate with any of the other in-range devices nearby. Essentially, the system management tasks are shared across all nodes. This contributes to reliability and scalability in two critical ways. The range of the network is dramatically increased, as each device now only needs to be within 20–30 meters of another device instead of needing to be within 20–30 meters of a network hub. The reliability of the network is also improved because there is no single point of failure; if one network node goes down, data can take an alternate path around it to reach its destination.
Another important aspect of reliability in a wireless lighting system like ARISTA is resistance to interference. With so many technologies like Wi-Fi and Zigbee sharing the busy 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band, it is reassuring to know that Bluetooth technology employs both “spread spectrum” and “adaptive frequency hopping” techniques across 40 available channels to optimize transmission integrity and ensure that every bit of data makes it through the “noise.”
How is that accomplished? Simply put, each message is broken into small data packets, and each packet is sent over different channels in a predefined sequence known only to the transmitting and destination devices.
Altogether, the massive reach of Bluetooth devices, reliable supporting infrastructure and a far-reaching development community focused on constant improvement make Bluetooth mesh technology the leading choice for low-powered wireless communication applications.
In the process of choosing a commercial lighting control system? Read our recent white paper, The Advantages of a Room-Based Bluetooth Mesh Lighting Control System, to learn how ARISTA’s wireless technology delivers lasting performance and contractor-friendly features for businesses of all types and sizes.