Bluetooth NLC (Networked Lighting Control) fully standardizes Bluetooth light bulbs

Bluetooth NLC (Networked Lighting Control) is a full-stack standard for wireless lighting control from the Bluetooth SIG that will enable multi-vendor interoperability, improve ease of deployment, and offer greater scalability.

Bluetooth light bulbs have been around for many years, at first using Bluetooth LE (Radio Layer) and then adding Bluetooth Mesh (Network Layer) to the mix, but there were always some proprietary bits to the software stack, and Bluetooth NLC removes all those with a complete standard for lighting control that further adds Device Profiles specific to his use case.

Bluetooth NLC

Bluetooth NLC still relies on Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth Mesh, but adds the following NLC Device Profiles at the Device Layer defining the requirements for a range of devices/features:

  • Ambient Light Sensor
  • Basic Lightness Controller
  • Basic Scene Selector
  • Dimming Control
  • Energy Monitor
  • Occupancy Sensor
NLC Basic Lightness
Interaction of a Basic Lightness Controller with other NLC profiles

You’ll find the specifications for each profile on the Bluetooth website. While the announcement was only made a few days ago, work on the new standard has been going on for a while, and the nRF Connect SDK documentation on the Nordic Semi website already has details and code samples for all the six Bluetooth NLC Devices Profiles listed above.

Since the new standard only touches the higher level of the software stack, it’s just a question of updating the SDK, and earlier devices supporting Bluetooth LE should be able to benefit from the new standard. For example, the Bluetooth NLC Profile demos from Nordic Semi are working on the Thingy:53 platform, the nRF5340 DK, the nRF52 DK (nRF52832), the nRF52840 DK, the nRF21540 DK, and/or the nRF52833 DK.

Besides advantages to consumers listed in the introduction, the Bluetooth SIG also expects the new NLC standard to benefit manufacturers with lower cost & faster innovation since there’s no need to maintain proprietary technologies anymore, increased market opportunities thanks to the standardization of smart Bluetooth lighting solutions, and additional revenue models with the Bluetooth radio potentially servicing other purposes such as indoor navigation, space utilization, and asset tracking.

The Bluetooth SIG did not say when we should expect Bluetooth NLC-certified devices, but it should not take too long since it is mostly a software update and Bluetooth LE chip vendors appear to have already implemented the new standard into their SDKs. Additional information may be found on the product page.

Thanks to TLS for the tip.

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