What are Mesh Networks and how do they work?

App Development 04/15/2021

By now you’ve probably taken a tour around the Bridgefy website, and noticed we oftentimes use the term “mesh network”. The Bridgefy technology is based on spontaneous mesh networks created by mobile devices, but what exactly is a mesh network?

In the case of the Bridgefy technology: a mesh network is a group of devices that are all connected to each other, thanks to Bluetooth connections. Check out the cool Scientific American article on how Bridgefy mesh networks operate.

Let’s break down how a mesh network is created.

The basics

It’s easy to understand how mesh networks operate, but to do that, we need to learn about how devices connect using their Bluetooth antennas. For example, nowadays all smartphones have a Bluetooth antenna. It’s what we use to connect to our cars, earphones, watch, and much more. Bridgefy uses Bluetooth antennas by leveraging technology called Bluetooth Low-Energy, which allows us to connect Android and iOS devices.

The distance between two devices can vary, but our tests and millions of users have taught us that a safe distance to offer is of up to 330 feet, or 100 meters, or 110 yards. This means that you can share information without needing Internet or any other device, over a whole football field, like this:

The phones are within each other’s Bluetooth range, and can connect with no problem. This already exists in several technologies, but what happens when you need to reach someone further away than 330 feet, or want to reach multiple people at once?

A Mesh Network is born

Ok so we already know that two devices can connect to each other over a range of 330 feet. That’s pretty great, but thanks to the Bridgefy technology, we can do much more.

The Bridgefy software shines when we have a group of devices in the same place, and want to connect all of them. Bridgefy connects every device to as many devices around it as is possible, while always taking care of not saturating any single device. Chains of devices are created, and this is what we call a mesh network. A mesh network looks something like this:

bridgefy one on one long distance message

You can see that the phone on the very left and the one on the far right are connected, even though they’re more than 330 feet apart. This is because the phones in the middle are lending themselves to the mesh network, allowing every participant to share messages over immense distances. Bridgefy mesh networks can have an unlimited amount of phones in one chain, which naturally allows users to cover immense distances!

You can share information privately or to everyone around you (click here to learn more), and Bridgefy mesh networks can be completely offline or can use available Internet connections.