Years ago, making a device to device connection meant lots of cash and resources. But over time, making connections between various devices has becomes easier and more cost-effective. All this has become possible with the help of wireless mesh networks.
Wireless Mesh Network:
A wireless mesh network can be simply defined as a communication network built up of nodes organized in a mesh topology. By node, we mean anything that has an IP address such as a phone or computer. These nodes help to create an extended radio signal to route, relay or act as the proxy server for traffic.
Components of a Mesh Network:
1: Gateway: These devices have additional connections beyond the mesh network that allows the exchange of messages between networks. They are actually a special type of repeaters that have a backhaul back to the internet.
2: Repeaters: These devices forward messages between the endpoints of a mesh network. They are part of the mesh network infrastructure and are considered the backbone of it.
3: Endpoint: End devices do not route messages for devices in the network, they are simply a final destination for data communications. They are typically sensors or relay controllers. They do not always remain on and can work on batteries. Usually, a nearby repeater will queue messages while the endpoint is in sleep mode.
How to Build a Wireless Mesh Network:
Your network typically depends on the number of sensors/actuators you need as this shows how many repeaters are required. You can then decide on the number of gateways required. An increase in the number of repeaters or gateways in the network will increase the size of your network.
How does the Particle Mesh Work?
A Particle Mesh is a type of wireless mesh network based on Thread (a wireless networking protocol). It connects Wi-Fi and cellular deployments with local networks available. This is an application of the Internet of Things. Particle Mesh is a bit different from traditional IoT devices, it also acts as a gateway to the Internet and creates a local wireless mesh that other devices can connect to. These devices enable messages to reach their destination easily without wasting power. The Particle Mesh provides a path to connect cellular devices to additional sensors or add-ons which proves to be affordable instead of providing each with a separate Internet connection.
Use of Wireless Mesh Networking in IoT:
Wireless Mesh Networking has become a major part of the IoT especially with the increase in connected homes and the use of Thread protocol. It has also proven to be cost effective at a high scale and is highly useful for areas where extending connections between two nodes is limited.
Some areas of use include:
1: Smart Cities: The use of wireless mesh networking in parking garages, business parks and outdoor facilities in smart cities is becoming increasingly common and highly useful.
2: Healthcare: It is used in healthcare equipment in connecting nodes and monitoring/locating of medical devices especially for equipment that needs to remain online.
3: Smart Homes: Wireless Mesh Networks are used to manage temperatures in smart homes. They work by gathering data through nodes from each room and using sensors to adjust the temperature.
4: Industrial Internet: It is used for monitoring data from all over the factory and to easily relay information such as errors in production on time.
Benefits of Wireless Mesh Networks:
Wireless Mesh Networks can be built in such a way that if one device goes offline the network can reconfigure to the nearest connection so no data is lost. If you need more range you can easily add more nodes and extend your network. During data connection, if one node stops working the nearby node will continue passing the data so data transfers smoothly. It is cost-efficient and uses less power. It is also easier to install as compared to wired networks.
Three variables to consider while Using Wireless Mesh Networks:
1: Installation: If your project is more home-based it is rather easy to install wireless mesh networks. However, if you plan to use it at an industrial level, make sure to first test the efficiency of the system, through a small prototype before you proceed to make a larger network.
2: Device Management: Remember to manage your network with the help of a device or application that can manage a number of devices at once and give you as much control as possible.
3: Support: Always select a widely adopted mesh networking solution as a networking solution with limited adoption will have fewer resources to help you.
Wireless Mesh Networking is a critical part of the IoT. This is because of its ability to create a self-extending and reliable network. It is highly beneficial, cost-effective and reduces power consumption. Also, it can connect millions of devices simultaneously and allows a device to device communication.