IPv6 over Bluetooth with Nordic’s new nRF51 SDK

13th May 2015

With the advent of IPv6 taking hold in the Internet of Things, it’s pleasing to see more entrants into the marketplace from existing and new players, and one example of this is Nordic Semiconductor’s Bluetooth Low Energy nRF51 IoT SDK.

This is a new Software Development Kit for the development of Internet-of-Things applications using Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) over Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth SMART), enabling end-to-end IP-based communication for Bluetooth IoT devices.

Nordic’s SDK is an IPv6-ready complete Internet Protocol suite for their nRF51-series of devices, bringing native IPv6 support to Bluetooth Low Energy applications, letting them talk directly to cloud services and other Bluetooth-connected Internet-of-Things devices over IP-based networks.

The SDK is suitable for networks of Nordic’s nRF51x wireless connectivity systems-on-chip, offering an IPv6-capable Bluetooth Low Energy software stack that provides drivers, libraries, examples and APIs to allow you to easily get started with development – all freely ready for engineers to download now from Nordic.

Furthermore the SDK enables large-scale, distributed, cloud-connected, heterogeneous network deployments for smart home, industrial, and enterprise automation applications, logistics, access control, and cloud services – and enables wireless communication between Internet services and Bluetooth-enabled IoT “things”.

With native IP networking down to the Bluetooth end-node devices, this means that Bluetooth Low Energy devices can communicate with each other via “headless” routers and out over the Internet. A Bluetooth Low Energy device can therefore communicate with other devices using other IPv6-enabled wired or wireless networking technologies, such as Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or 802.15.4/6LoWPAN, to form a heterogeneous network.

Unlike some other IoT solutions based on proxy servers, proprietary network bridges or gateways, Nordic’s nRF51 IoT SDK is based entirely on open standards and extends IP addressing all the way to the end-node device.

As a reference design and demonstration platform for their Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK, Nordic provides their “IPv6 over Bluetooth Smart Coffee” demonstration – an example of a wireless, IPv6 Bluetooth-enabled Internet-of-Things coffee machine based on Nordic’s IoT SDK:

The coffee machine, being IP enabled, has its own IPv6 address and is directly addressable from the Internet over IPv6. Native support for IPv6 allows the coffee machine and the cloud application to use the same protocol without any need for proxy servers or translations, allowing direct connectivity to MQTT, as the application protocol, based on top of TCP at the transport layer.

The SDK includes a 6LoWPAN IPv6-over-Bluetooth Low Energy adaptation layer and a complete Internet Protocol suite – a protocol stack that includes IPv6 and ICMP, with UDP and TCP protocols supported at the transport layer, along with CoAP and MQTT support at the application layer, giving you a powerful suite of different protocols which are useful for IoT applications.

A compact memory footprint means that the complete protocol stack can be run on a nRF51-series device in a single-chip configuration without extra memory, enabling developers to minimise power, size and cost of their Bluetooth-connected IoT hardware products.

Nordic’s Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK also supports the Internet Protocol Support Profile (IPSP), a profile which is in the process of being adopted as a standard by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group.

The SDK includes an IPv6 stack, including UDP socket APIs, an ICMPv6 (ping) module, and support for multiple IPv6 addresses. The included 6LoWPAN and IPSP libraries support 6LoWPAN compression and decompression, 6LoWPAN node role support, packet flow control, IPv6 prefix management, and the ability to use a third-party IPv6 stack if you choose. A CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) library is also provided with the SDK, providing support for all the basic CoAP message types.

Complementing the SDK, Nordic is also providing examples that configure the nRF51 device as a Bluetooth Low Energy 6LoWPAN node, as well as a reference software platform for setting up a headless router that supports IPv6 and Bluetooth Low Energy using a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian Linux combined with a Bluetooth LE USB dongle, as well as a range of other application examples.

Nordic provides a reference Raspbian Linux image for this example router application which you can download, ready to go. The combination of this headless router platform, the new nRF51 Development Kit and the nRF51 IoT SDK provide developers with a powerful and complete platform for developing Bluetooth Low Energy based Internet-of-Things applications based on Nordic nRF51 series devices.

The Bluetooth Low Energy IoT SDK is suitable for use with Nordic’s nRF51 Development Kit (which supports Bluetooth Low Energy, ANT, or generic low-power 2.4 GHz wireless communications using the various different chipsets in the nRF51 family), or the nRF51 USB dongle.

nordic nrf51 1

The SDK is also suitable for use with the nRF51422 multi-protocol Bluetooth Low Energy / ANT system-on-chip and the nRF51822 multi-protocol Bluetooth Low Energy system-on-chip, the nRF51822 Evaluation Kit, or any other development tools or platforms from third parties, as long as they are based around the nRF51822 Bluetooth Low Energy SoC, the nRF51422, or any other devices in the nRF51 family.

Nordic provides support and community discussion for users of their platform online, through the Nordic Developer Zone forums and Web resources, nRFready demo applications for Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled phones or other mobile devices, and a range of other resources provided on their website.

Nordic’s new IPv6 system offers new and possibly existing IoT-based products the entrance into the next generation of device connectivity and as part of this the team at LX can partner with you for mutual success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisIPv6 over Bluetooth with Nordic’s new nRF51 SDK

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