Bluetooth LE Mesh-powered IoT platform enables smart building automation

M Way Solutions

M-Way Solutions’ BlueRange platform employs Nordic’s nRF52832 SoC to provide long range, bidirectional connectivity across robust and self-healing mesh networks

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Stuttgart, Germany-based enterprise solutions and software company, M-Way Solutions, has selected Nordic’s nRF52832 Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the wireless connectivity for its ‘BlueRange’ IoT platform. The BlueRange platform is primarily designed for smart building automation and asset tracking applications, providing the ability to automatically monitor and control building infrastructure based on comprehensive sensor data. In addition, the platform can perform ‘real time’ tracking of equipment, material, and staff via wireless tags connected to the mesh and from there to the centralized management portal.

BlueRange is designed to make smart and wireless buildings possible, and to increase the flexibility of building utilization. According to the company it is the ideal technology to digitalize office spaces, production sites, hotels, shopping centers, and more. BlueRange connects buildings and users and allows them to control lights, blinds and temperature intuitively through mobile devices.

Bluetooth LE ecosystem

BlueRange is comprised of an ecosystem of third party ‘BlueRange Ready’ hardware—including Bluetooth LE asset tags, environmental sensors, luminaires, switches and HVAC controls—a high throughput open source Bluetooth LE-based mesh protocol, and a nRF52832 SoC-equipped gateway to a back-end server cluster and management portal. The BlueRange Ready components include devices preflashed with BlueRange firmware. They are used in lighting solutions such as the Vossloh-Schwabe ‘Blu2Light’ system, the Regent ‘Lightpad’ and the Waldmann ‘Yara’ luminaire as well as HVAC controllers such as the Belparts ‘DXN6_B’. Further components include asset tracking tags such as the ‘BlueRange Tag A1’, the ‘BlueRange CO2 Sensor C1’ powered by Enerthing, the ‘BlueRange Mesh Node R2’, as well as the nRF52840 SoC-powered ‘BlueRange USB Dongle U1’.

After many years working with Nordic’s solutions we know we originally made the right choice to use its technology
Volker Hahn, M-Way Solutions

In a typical building automation application, the lighting, movement, temperature, and other sensors are provisioned in the BlueRange Mesh via the ‘BlueRange Admin’ app on a Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone or tablet. The open-source BlueRange Mesh is a bidirectional mesh based on scatter net logic, timed and directed by a self-finding, -maintaining, and -healing algorithm. This open-source connection based mesh protocol, called FruityMesh, is also available on GitHub and offers very high throughput, lower power consumption and other advantages compared to competing solutions.

The mesh nodes send sensor data to the mesh network’s central gateway which in turn relays the data to the BlueRange Portal using standardized technologies such as Representational State Transfer (REST) and Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) based on Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). The portal enables the user to review sensor data at a building, floor, or individual room level, as well as execute network and device management commands. These commands are relayed via the nRF52832 SoC-equipped gateway to the relevant mesh nodes to trigger tasks such as raising or lowering HVAC temperature output or luminosity in specified building zones.

Flexible lighting control

A key benefit of BlueRange is powerful and flexible lighting control. BlueRange Ready luminaires using the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) enable wireless configuration and control through their connectivity. Based on occupancy sensors, BlueRange hardware ensures automatic lighting control for individual luminaires and lighting arrays. In addition, BlueRange also offers an option for easy integration of building automation components using industry standards such as KNX or BACnet®.

The nRF52832 SoC combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU), with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5.2, ANT™, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) featuring -96-dB RX sensitivity, with 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM. The nRF52832 SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S132 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5.2-certified RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S132 SoftDevice features Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports up to twenty connections. 

The nRF52832 SoC has also been engineered to minimize power consumption with features such as the 2.4GHz radio’s 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents and a fully-automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with Nordic’s nRF51 Series SoCs. The result is a Bluetooth LE solution which offers 58 CoreMark/mA, up to twice as power efficient as competing devices.

“In developing our BlueRange solution the flexibility of the Nordic SDK [Software Development Kit] was very important to us, as was the ultra-low power consumption of the Nordic SoC as we target high energy efficiency,” says Volker Hahn, CEO, M-Way Solutions. “After many years working with Nordic’s solutions we know we originally made the right choice to use its technology.”