US IoT firm Particle has launched a range of hardware devices that gives developers easy access to mesh networking technology.
The aim is to help organisations develop affordable networks that span multiple locations and carry large amounts of data at speed.
According to Particle, mesh networks make IoT solutions more intelligent. The new hardware “marks an important advance to help developers revolutionise industries, from manufacturing and logistics to smart home devices”, said the company in a written statement.
The IoT is a simple concept – interconnected devices, services, and data – but the reality can be complex, especially when dealing with legacy infrastructures. Many companies run into obstacles when attempting to build and link multiple connected products together.
For example, IoT devices often use cellular and Wi-fI technologies to connect to the cloud. However, when it comes to deploying them in rural areas, connections are often unreliable and are frequently disrupted. And when a multitude of devices is connected to the same network, power and downtime problems often arise.
Mesh infrastructures can help address these issues, said the company. With Particle Mesh, developers can create local networks for low-cost, low-power devices to run on. These feed back to a Wi-Fi or LTE gateway.
“This also instills redundancy, so if one endpoint fails the network automatically self-heals to the nearest device with no downtime or lost data,” said Particle.
With Particle’s new offering, organisations can buy a range of mesh products that link up to the Particle Device Cloud. These are designed to work as a family of IoT devices.
In that family are: Argon, a Wi-Fi and mesh-enabled unit that functions as a gateway for different devices; Boron, which can work with LTE/2G/3G-enabled devices; and Zenon, an endpoint device that connects to Argon or Boron and creates local networks.
The products are available to pre-order, but Particle has yet to announce an official release date.
Supporting budding IoT gurus
Zach Supalla, co-founder and CEO of Particle, said the company has helped “150,000 creators bring their products online – and learned a lot about the toughest problems that innovators encounter”.
He claimed that the products are an easy way to set up an IoT network. “We built Particle Mesh to address a gap in the market: building local networks to connect IoT products to each other without being a networking guru,” he said.
Particle is based on mesh networking technology OpenThread, which was developed by Alphabet-owned Nest Labs.
Grant Erickson, principle software engineer at Nest Labs and president of the Thread Group, added: “Thread was created to support developers in building connected products with a networking protocol that activates the internet in IoT.
“Built on Thread, Particle Mesh enables a welcome expansion beyond the connected home to industrial use cases that will drive the next wave of growth of IoT.”
Internet of Business says
As the IoT spreads and more organisations see the value in the data that smart devices can gather in real time (where possible), connectivity, speed, and ease of deployment will become the critical factors, alongside low cost. Edge and mesh environments are emerging as essential components and enablers of the IoT, and this will remain the case for as long as core communications infrastructures remain slow, patchy, or unreliable.
For example, the UK has a national infrastructure provider which claims that 10MBPS broadband is “superfast”. As long as that is the case, many organisations will rely on innovation within the IoT community to speed their ambitions to market.
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