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Bluetooth Mesh Networking Could Improve Healthcare IoT

Bluetooth mesh networking can help healthcare organizations control their physical environment using low-power IoT connectivity.

Bluetooth mesh networking supports healthcare IoT

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Bluetooth recently announced its support of Bluetooth mesh networking, which supports large-scale Internet of Things (IoT) deployments and building automation.

Bluetooth mesh networking uses the low-power radio technology to connect enabled devices to the network. It creates large-scale device networks using a managed flood approach for transmitting messages that is simple, reliable, and suited for low-power wireless mesh networks handling large amounts of diverse traffic.

"For us, Bluetooth mesh is the future," Wireless Cables Inc. CEO Dr. Juergen Kienhoefer said in a statement. "Our customers are mostly industrial customers that work with sensors and controls, meaning they need long range, tight security, and reliable communication with a large number of devices, as well as more and more integrated web capabilities each year.”

“While our current solutions can extend Bluetooth range up to 200 meters, Bluetooth mesh allows us to solve even more complex range and limit problems."

Bluetooth technology is vital to the IoT because it is used to transfer data and broadcast information between devices. The addition of mesh networking to its capabilities will allow users to further utilize smart applications for building automation, energy management, and industrial automation.

The internet-enabled device industry is expected to reach 48 billion devices installed by 2021, according to ABI Research. Nearly one-third of those devices are projected to be Bluetooth devices.

Bluetooth aims to impact the connected devices industry by making an impact in the industrial applications industry and then the larger IoT ecosystem.

"The addition of mesh to the Bluetooth standard will open up significant opportunities for richer experiences in smart homes and building automation, enabling fresh waves of innovation across a range of IoT applications," ARM Wireless Business Unit Vice President of Marketing Bob Morris said in a statement. "Low-power connectivity is essential to bringing the next generation of secure IoT devices to life."

The potential addition of Bluetooth mesh networking to healthcare could potentially help organizations save money and ease the management of automated features.

The technology is currently being used in industrial settings to control the large-scale physical environment. Current use-cases include building automation, wireless sensor networks, and asset tracking.

All of these use cases have potential in the healthcare sector. Using Bluetooth mesh networking for building automation can help healthcare organizations control their environments from a central location automatically and eliminate wasted resources due to human error.

Organizations can also use Bluetooth mesh networking for lighting, heating/cooling, and even electricity.

Wireless sensor networks monitor physical environment conditions and relays that data back to a control panel. Bluetooth mesh networking can help organizations monitor physical conditions in a healthcare setting by connecting them securely and providing the network to scale up and expand.

Healthcare organizations can also benefit from asset tracking with Bluetooth mesh networking. Clinicians can misplace certain devices, but having the IoT device connected to the network can ensure that clinicians can quickly locate the tools they need, saving valuable time.

"By adding support for mesh networking, the Bluetooth member community is continuing a long history of focused innovation to help new, up-and-coming markets flourish," Bluetooth SIG Executive Director Mark Powell said in a statement.

"In the same way the connected device market experienced rapid growth after the introduction of Bluetooth Low Energy, we believe Bluetooth mesh networking can play a vital role in helping early stage markets, such as building automation and wireless sensor networks, experience more rapid growth."

Healthcare organizations can potentially benefit from the automation of their physical environments to prevent wasted resources and gain more control over building conditions for clinicians and patients. 

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