The difference between Private and Broadcast Communications using Mesh Networks

App Development 09/22/2020

Communicating has always been the single most important part of human development: whether it’s getting knowledge from your teacher, exchanging ideas with a coworker, or listening to your parents. At Bridgefy, we realized that millions of people found themselves in need of exchanging information with others, but were unable to, because they lacked access to the Internet. Apps that let us do payments, gaming, learning, and talking are available to everyone, but not everyone has the luxury of a constant Internet connection.

So we built Bridgefy! Bridgefy is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that is easily integrated into mobile apps by developers, and makes those apps work without Internet. This increases engagement, revenue, and user satisfaction. How? By creating Bluetooth-based mesh networks, that allow for direct connections among devices instead of having to process information through a faraway server. (Click here to read about what a mesh network is) These mesh networks, or chains of devices, can be 100% offline or hybrid, meaning, some available Internet connections are used to strengthen the network. Click here to learn the difference between an offline and a hybrid mesh network.

There are two communication modes available using the Bridgefy technology: Private and Broadcast.

Private Communications

On private connections, devices use nearby mesh networks to share private messages. There can be a distance of up to 330ft between two devices, so when there are other devices in the middle, they act as bridges so that you can cover larger distances. The amount of “hops” is unlimited, meaning you can cover an unlimited distance and use an unlimited amount of phones. Information hops from one device to another, and another, until it gets to the person you want to reach, like this:

bridgefy one on one long distance message

This is useful for dating, gaming, and social media apps, in which you want to share information, images, or game-moves privately. The people found in the middle won’t even realize that they’re participating in the mesh network. Don’t worry: by November 2020, Bridgey will use sophisticated encryption technology to make “hacking” and message interception almost impossible.

Broadcast Communications

We already learned about private communications, but what happens when you want to reach EVERYONE around you? Say you’re sending out an amber alert, an ad, or weather information. You want all devices possible to read it, right? That’s where Broadcast communication comes in.

All devices have a limit of other devices they can connect to at one time. This is in order to avoid over-saturation of connections, and to ensure security. Imagine that your phone can connect to 4 devices, and those 4 devices can in turn connect to a different set of other 4 devices. Mesh networks grow exponentially, to increase the amount of devices you reach, like this:

In this diagram, the central phone is directly connected to only 4 devices, but can reach an additional 4 because of the Bridgefy technology creating mesh networks. These chains of devices are useful for apps that work with natural disaster alerts, ads, amber alerts, contact-tracing, and in-classroom content, for example. To avoid saturation, the Bridgefy algorithm makes sure messages aren’t repeated, duplicated, sent to the wrong person, or to the same person more than once, while also taking care of battery and security.

So there you have it! Developers can choose how to make the Bridgefy SDK work for them depending on what kind of app they’re building. Soon, we’ll be able to cover whole cities using Bridgefy + your favorite apps!