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My company builds devices that communicate over both cellular and wireless mesh networks. The devices gather data from industrial equipment and send that data over the Internet to our servers.

Currently our mesh network is homegrown. We're considering switching to another wireless mesh network: iDigi, Synapse, or an equivalent self-configuring mesh.

For data collection when no device in a location has good cell signal, we'd like to enable connectivity from mesh to smartphones carried by service technicians who periodically visit our devices. The idea is for the technician's phone to suck up un-sent data from the mesh and upload that data to the cloud when the phone next connects to the Internet. It's not financially practical to add bluetooth or wifi to our devices-- we must use mesh for all non-cellular wireless connectivity.

All the mesh solutions we're considering use different radios than you'd find in a phone (no wifi-based mesh options met our requirements), so we need a bridge between the mesh and the phone.

Technicians' phones are either newer Android devices or older Windows Mobile 6.x device. We can't add cables or dongles to technicians' phones because they're too likley to be broken or dislodged-- this means relying on the phone's existing bluetooth or wifi capabilities to communicate to the bridge.

So we need a mesh-to-phone bridge that:

  • is rechargeable with a battery that lasts at least 12 hours.
  • fits easily in a technician's pocket
  • wirelessly communicates to the phone over wifi or bluetooth
  • ideally is an off-the-shelf device we can buy or resell, although if we need to make a custom device one we can do so (as a last resort)
  • ideally costs under $300 US

Got any suggestions for a good solution that meets these requirements, or at least comes close? Feel free to recommend a specific mesh implementation as well as a solution to by mesh-to-phone bridge problem.

The ideal solution would be a rechargeable mesh-to-bluetooth bridge, but I haven't found any of those from any mesh vendor.

The next-best option would be off-the-shelf components we could bundle together, like a mesh-to-serial bridge securely bolted to a serial-to-bluetooth bridge. Or a mesh-to-USB bridge combined with a USB-to-wifi bridge. And so on.

My next favorite option is to assemble a solution from 3rd-party modules on our own circuit board and case.

My least favorite option is to plug a serial cable into the device and a serial-to-bluetooth bridge like this one. This solution means lost tech time fiddling with (and breaking) cables so we'd like to avoid this if at all possible.

Got ideas?

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I don't think you will find something COTS that specific.

However check these guys out: Hybrid bluetooth zigbee mesh networks:

http://www.libelium.com/libeliumworld/articles/101321320500

And this product does most of what you need, except fit in your pocket:

http://www.libelium.com/products/meshlium

If you were to make a custom board, and Arduino, Bluetooth shield and Zigbee shield together would make a simple bridge.

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If you are willing to do at least software integration, it seems to me you could have a low-unit-cost solution by packaging a mesh radio module and a bluetooth module with (depending on data size) anything from a smaller arduino type board through a more cost-effective mid-range arm board up to a small arm linux board such as a beaglebone, chumby hacker board, or in a few months rasberry pi. Pricing wise, you will need the radios, battery and charger, and anywhere from $25-80 for the controller.

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Setup a Mesh threw Cheap Smart phones, Android can do bridges with just software..

Make it a App that does something for people and you will not even need to buy devices.You will have volunteers.Say give them Mesh access(vpn no NSA here) or offer a lotto powered by the mesh of bitcoin or a cloud service say 60 gigs..

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer seems to make little sense given the original question. Perhaps you can add more details on how you see this working? \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Nov 6 '14 at 13:33

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