Friday, March 28, 2014

Mesh Networking and iOS 7

As a hider feature of iOS7, mesh networking in iOS 7 called the Multipeer Connectivity Framework by Apple, is attracting lots of attentions.It provides support for discovering services provided by nearby iOS devices using infrastructure Wi-Fi networks, peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth personal area networks and subsequently communicating with those services by sending message-based data, streaming data, and resources (such as files).

The network topology of the internet has been likened to a jellyfish

There are several types of objects in this mesh network to work with:

  • Session objects (MCSession) provide support for communication between connected peer devices. If your app creates a session, it can invite other peers to join it. Otherwise, your app can join a session when invited by another peer.
  • Advertiser objects (MCNearbyServiceAdvertiser) tell nearby peers that your app is willing to join sessions of a specified type.
  • Advertiser assistant objects (MCAdvertiserAssistant) provide the same functionality as advertiser objects, but also provide a standard user interface that allows the user to accept invitations. If you wish to provide your own user interface, or if you wish to exercise additional programmatic control over which invitations are displayed, use an advertiser object directly.
  • Browser objects (MCNearbyServiceBrowser) let your app search programmatically for nearby devices with apps that support sessions of a particular type.
  • Browser view controller objects (MCBrowserViewController) provide a standard user interface that allows the user to choose nearby peers to add to a session.
  • Peer IDs (MCPeerID) uniquely identify an app running on a device to nearby peers.
Session objects maintain a set of peer ID objects that represent the peers connected to the session. Advertiser objects also use a single local peer object to provide information that identifies the device and its user to other nearby devices.
This framework is used in two phases: the discovery phase, and the session phase.

In the discovery phase, your app uses a browser object (described in MCNearbyServiceBrowser Class Reference) to browse for nearby peers, optionally using the provided view controller (described in MCBrowserViewController Class Reference) to display a user interface.
The app also uses an advertiser object (described in MCNearbyServiceAdvertiser Class Reference) or an advertiser assistant object (described in MCAdvertiserAssistant Class Reference) to tell nearby peers that it is available so that apps on other nearby devices can invite it to a session.
During the discovery phase, your app has limited communication with and knowledge of other peers; it has access to the discoveryInfo data that other nearby clients provide, and any context data that other peers provide when inviting it to join a session.
After the user chooses which peers to add to a session, the app invites those peers to join the session. Apps running on the nearby devices can choose whether to accept or reject the invitation, and can ask their users for permission.
If the peer accepts the invitation, the browser establishes a connection with the advertiser and the session phase begins. In this phase, your app can perform direct communication to one or more peers within the session. The framework notifies your app through delegate callbacks when peers join the session and when they leave the session.
The FireChat app, developed by Open Garden released in the last week makes use of this feature. This feature allows phones to connect to one another directly using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi as an alternative to the Internet. If you’re using FireChat, its “nearby” chat room lets you exchange messages with other users within 100 feet without sending data via your cellular provider.

Source: Open Garden

The new feature of iOS7 currently only supports data moving directly from one device to another, and from one device to several others. However, the FireChat will extend the feature so that data can hop between two iPhones out of range of one another via intermediary devices. That approach, known as mesh networking, is at the heart of several existing projects to create disaster-proof or community-controlled communications networks.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Apple’s decision to ignore NFC is looking better every day

BY  at BGR
Why Apple skipped NFC
For years, Apple pundits’ favorite game was to guess when the iPhone would finally support NFC, or Near Field Communication. If only Apple would support NFC, then mobile payments would take off, and we could finally stop paying cash and credit cards. But Apple never did support NFC and it appears it made the right decision: According to GigaOm, major retailers Best Buy and 7-Eleven are ditching their NFC sensors in their stores. 
So far, NFC hasn’t taken off for a number of reasons. First, banks charge higher fees for mobile payments and retailers with low margins naturally look for the payment option with the lowest fees. Second, a mobile payments standard hasn’t emerged as a result of competing options from Google and Isis, which is backed by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Isis tried to block Google Wallet on phones that supported Isis, but Googlefound a way to circumvent this in its latest version of Android. In addition, the Merchant Customer Exchange, which includes Target, Walmart, and Sears, is developing its own mobile payment option that supports barcode scanners.
But perhaps the biggest blow to NFC has been Apple’s refusal to adopt it on the iPhone. Retailers are unlikely to put their muscle behind a payment option that the most popular phone in the United States does not support. While Android may have higher marketshare than iOS, iPhone users are typically wealthier and more willing to spend money.
In addition, Apple has been hinting for a while that it may have a mobile payments solution of its own. With iOS 6, Apple launched Passbook, an application to collect gift cards, tickets, and other passes. And with iOS 7, Apple added AirDrop, which allows users to transfer various types of data between iOS devices. Apple has also supported Bluetooth LE since the iPhone 4S, and with iOS 7, it introduced iBeacon, a system for interacting with nearby iOS devices. iBeacon has already received a surprising amount of support from large retailers, including in Apple’s own stores. While none of these are a mobile payments solution on their own, they certainly point to a potential iWalletdown the road.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mesh Network and Internet of Things

What Is a Mesh Network? According to, "Mesh networking is a fancy way of saying every device is able to talk to every other device. The advantage in home automation is multiple paths to the destination device. Imagine you want to drive across town to work. If there’s only possible route to get there then you’ll be late if traffic is heavy or worse, an accident has occurred and stopped traffic. However, if you have multiple alternate routes available then you’ll always get there on time regardless of road conditions. That’s a mesh network."

The world around us is becoming more connected every day, almost to a pervasive extent as microprocessors, BLE (bluetooth smart), ZigBee, and WiFi Direct integrate more than just consumer electronics into our online lives. Everything from the Nest thermostat, BLE enabled lights, to connected refrigerators contain SoCs, enabling us to access them remotely, or use them in ways that we never imagined before. Industrial use of these small, integrated chips is growing like crazy, too. The Internet of Things refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The following table listed the total addressable market by wireless application:

Wireless Application
Total Addressable Market
Phone accessories (internet / apps centric devices)
> 10 billion
Smart Energy (meters & displays). Which will drive
~ 1 billion
Home Automation (white goods and HVAC)
> 5 billion
Health, Wellness, Sports & Fitness
> 10 billion
Assisted Living
> 5 billion
Animal Tagging (food assurance)
~ 3 billion
Intelligent Transport Systems
>1 billion
M2M (Internet connected devices)
> 10 billion

ZigBee is designed for mesh network which covers large areas, but is not so well suited to ad-hoc networking and requires powered routers within a lower power LAN. BLE will be able to communicate with billions of Bluetooth devices, but it lacked of mesh network support. Fortunately, CSR and Zuli have pushed BLE as a mesh network for the smart home.
The CSR Mesh protocol uses Bluetooth Smart to send messages to other Bluetooth Smart devices in the network which in turn send them onward. Messages can be addressed to individual devices or groups of devices. It is also possible for devices to belong to more than one group. Control is enabled via standard Bluetooth Smart enabled appliances such as light switches, or via the majority of smartphones or tablets available today. 

Most current, common Bluetooth applications allow for up to seven devices to be available for pairing and yet will allow only two to be active at any time and only within a 33ft/10 meter range. CSR Mesh technology allows each Bluetooth Smart device to communicate with all of the others in the network. Each added device will also extend the working range of the network. With CSR Mesh, you can control up to 65,000 devices in a single network! And if that wasn’t enough, there is virtually no limit to the number of networks that can be setup in a given location.

Why are these types of numbers so necessary for the success of the Internet of Things? It was called "Bluetooth Internet of Things Revolution?".


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