Mesh it up: what is a wireless mesh network and how does it work?

a mesh network illustration
Mesh network: what is it in fact?

 

During the last couple of years, mesh networks have become a part of the conversations in various technology and industry circles. Whether talking about private or commercial use, mesh always finds its way to the spotlight. This blog post will explain what wireless mesh networking is and how it works.

 

So, what is all the fuss about mesh networking?

Mesh networking is a type of network topology in which each node relays data for the network. This means that each node can act as both a client and a server, which makes the network more resilient and scalable. In a wireless mesh network, there is no central server; instead, each node is interconnected with every other node in the network.

 

Node communication routes

When data is sent from one node to another, it is first routed through the nodes that are closest to the destination node. This ensures that data always takes the shortest path possible, which reduces latency, and makes the network more efficient.

 

A node has failed. What now?

Even if one of the nodes fails, the rest remain connected and the communication process can continue undisturbed. Other nodes will figure out a way around the one that is no longer active and keep the connection active. In this case, a new optimal route is created.

 

How does ordering drinks at a bar relate to mesh networking?

 

Why is Wireless Mesh Networking a game changer?

Wireless is a shared carrier medium – meaning the electromagnetic wave signals that a device sends out can be “heard” (sensed) by anyone in its range. However, conventional wireless networks operate on one-to-one signaling protocols, leading to most of the received messages being discarded. But this does not utilize the full benefits of having a shared medium.  

Imagine being in a crowded bar. There are many people waiting for their drink between the bartenders and you, but you are trying to order a drink. The bartender is ready to take new orders while his colleague prepares drinks for the people waiting in front of you. But your voice can’t be heard and you are unable to order your drink. However, sound (like radio) is also a shared medium. So, if the person waiting between you and the bartender can relay that message for you, the bartender can start preparing your drink while the others are waiting.

While it is normal for people to cooperatively relay each other’s spoken messages, it is not so normal for devices to do the same. Meshmerize makes this cooperation a reality in the machine world, increasing the robustness of the networks. This increased reliability is a real game changer in the industrial wireless installations of our customers, as connectivity losses lead to stranded robots and halted operations, often for hours together.

 

Construction machinery working at a construction site
Low infrastructure construction site – prefect place for a mesh network

 

Mesh network application span

Mesh networks are often used in places where there is no central infrastructure, such as in disaster areas or rural areas. These systems can also be used in industrial applications, such as connecting warehouse robots to each other or connecting sensors on a factory floor. In fact, mesh networking can have a use anywhere from your apartment to various facilities, automated warehouses, agricultural regions, drones, tunnels, even ports. When talking about wireless mesh network use, we should also mention some other use domains:

  • Potential to improve public WiFi access supplied by local administrations;
  • Connecting sensors, smart devices, safety, and monitoring systems, as well as other Internet of Things (IoT) devices;
  • Providing an internet connection to developing communities without appropriate internet wiring infrastructure;
  • Temporary sights, such as construction sites, can also benefit from using mesh systems;
  • Strengthening wireless access in healthcare systems.

 

Mesh Networks vs. Private Cellular Networks

Mesh networks come with a whole list of properties, some good, some not the best.  When talking about the benefits of mesh networking compared to traditional Wi-Fi, 4G, and even 5G networks, depending on the network software being used, naming at least a few is a must:

  • Only one node is required to be physically connected to the Internet;
  • Backup technology reinforces data security in disk failure mishaps;
  • Needs less power to operate;
  • Gives a boost to network reliability;
  • Can be used with existing infrastructure, e.g. by using mesh, WiFi systems can be significantly upgraded.

 

mesh network illustration
How far can a mesh network stretch?

 

The full potential of mesh networking systems is not yet seen. There have been some major changes in this area during recent years, and the future seems promising. As research about mesh networking has taken a great momentum, there’s no saying about where it might end up.

Bear in mind, a typical mesh network also comes with a set of advantages, as well as disadvantages. You can find more detailed information on the advantages and disadvantages of mesh networking in our blog as well. Although there are many benefits of using mesh networks, one should also consider the disadvantages. 

 

The good and the bad

There’s a whole list of good and bad points about wireless mesh networks. Some of them have already been mentioned. Mesh networking brings out a couple of things to pay attention to. Some of the drawbacks include latency and dependability issues. In fact, issues of this sort make managers not even consider introducing mesh networking to their enterprise. 

That’s where Meshmerize steps in. Meshmerize focuses on these flaws to its own advantage. Creating a low latency mesh networking software with high reliability rates literally changes the game. Not only for mesh networking, but industry-grade networks for machines in general  – find out more about it here. Minimizing potential mesh networking faults is essential to unleashing the full mesh potential. 

To rerun the basics: mesh networking is a type of network topology that is resilient and scalable. In a mesh network, each node is interconnected with every other node in the network, which means that if one node goes down, the rest of the nodes can still communicate with each other. Mesh networks are continuing to be used in more and more industries, allowing robots, drones, and other machines to be parts of successful, robust networks, and to achieve more than ever before.

 

 

Meshmerize is a startup based in Dresden, Germany that provides the ultimate mesh network software to an array of industries. The full potential of Meshmerize is yet to be seen. We would like to hear your thoughts – let us know what you think at hello@meshmerize.net