First up, I want to say that I did not do any deep research into Mesh before signing up for the Particle Mesh pre-order. I just assumed that the great flexibility and capability of the 2nd generation devices would only improve with the 3rd generation.
Now that we are all learning more about Mesh, I have some concerns whether it will fulfill my use cases. I suppose for this discussion, I am looking for thoughts on how to make it work and maybe to influence which capabilities Particle will focus on developing. (Not to worry; I have sufficient ideas that all my pre-order devices can be put to good use.)
My original use case was tracking a fleet of vehicles for maintenance purposes. A single network of an Argon in the office and Xenons in all the vehicles and equipment would work. The idea would be that engine hours or distance could be tracked to determine maintenance such as refueling and oil changes. The first challenge is the Nordic processors do not have the built-in support for CANbus, which the STM32F does support. That is not a show-stopper, but a CANbus library would need to be developed for the mesh devices. The other concern is range. With vehicles parked around the yard, the distance between the Argon and the Xenons could be stretched pretty far. For example, there are trailers up to 53 feet long. My longest trailer is 29 feet on a 20 foot long truck. Worst case for me is 49 feet between a truck and trailer, although I am sure it will never actually be that far. I hope Particle can improve the range on what the early experiments are indicating.
After that, then my imagination kicked into higher gear. How about dispatching of the vehicles. That would be easy, correct? Just replace the Xenon in each truck with a Boron and asset tracker, and then I would be able to know where the vehicles are along with their trailers and equipment. When a truck drives out of the yard, what happens? My thought was the truck would form a new network. Could a Boron dynamically switch networks? More importantly, could it command Xenons to follow it to the new network? That could get expensive quickly with the new pricing structure. Then again, it would be worth the price for commercial/industrial activity which is where dispatching would be valuable anyways. On some other threads, a bridge network was a possible solution which could also work with this use case. Please add a +1 vote to add bridge network capability.
With my imagination in top gear, I could replace all the Xenons with Borons to get even more advanced functionality. In this use case we still have dynamic network issues at even greater complexity (bridge networks, switching network to network, etc.). However, the remaining Borons would almost never use the cellular capability. This could get overly expensive with the current mesh pricing. The commercial clients would certainly think twice before doing something like this. It could be useful to recreational vehicles too, but the pricing would definitely be a limiting factor. One solution could be pay-per-use cellular at a premium rate as data would rarely be used but worth it in cases where it was actually needed.
I also want to +1 vote to develop the BLE capability. In the use cases above, a link between the truck Boron and the driver’s cell phone could unleash all sorts of capabilities.
I know this would be a lot for Particle to do, but I want to show that there are a lot of possibilities with a mature and flexible mesh topology. Of course, with capabilities like this, it is important to take the time to do it right. I think there are a number of people in the community who would like to know what is on the roadmap for mesh. Of course, when is always a question, but I know it is not really fair to ask that … it will take the time it takes.