Developer of the Month: Martin Forest on Using CSRmesh Connectivity to Power Smart Lighting

Thursday 3/9/17 10:36am
Posted By Mike Roberts
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Snapdragon and Qualcomm branded products are products of
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

How can Bluetooth® help keep your home secure? We find out with Qualcomm® Developer Network’s Developer of the Month Martin Forest, who uses CSRmesh™ connectivity to power BeON Home smart security lighting. Many smart lights focus on color, but BeON lights have home security firmly in mind.

We caught up with Martin to talk about how IoT is shaping home security and the crucial role connectivity has in that evolution.

 Martin Forest, QDN Developer of the Month March 2017

Can you tell us about your company and the apps you develop?
BeON Home offers smart lighting products. Our security bulbs create a believable “simulation of you”, to make your home appear occupied when no one is there. You can use an app or key fob remote control to activate the system before leaving. Each bulb will then ‘replay’ your normal lighting behavior, and even respond to a doorbell with a sequence of lights if an intruder checks to see if you’re home.

The bulbs also provide lighting in emergency and power outage situations using ‘always on’ tech made possible by CSRmesh. The app uses a mobile library from Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to connect and communicate with the bulbs, using a secure mesh over Bluetooth. This makes it possible for bulbs to “hear” fire and carbon monoxide alarms, and turn on lights to safely guide everyone to an exit.

BeON Lightbulb with yellow core on grey reflective surface
Image: BeON Bulb

How was your company started?
BeON Home was started in 2013 with a conversation between friends. Co-founders Alexei Erchak, Arvind Baliga and I were talking about how lighting is an essential part of home protection. Not just home security, but safety too. LED lighting was offering a new way to integrate semiconductor technology in lighting that was not possible before. The familiar light bulb form factor was very appealing, and with 5 billion light sockets in the US we knew we could develop a platform that would have significant impact.

What advice would you give to other developers?
Today with the number of boards, APIs, cloud services and great online communities available, it’s easier than ever to build something. The question is, build what? Find a problem that you care about, for yourself or a friend, and make a simple solution using readily available tech. Just get started!

What is one thing that makes your company culture unique? Do you have any rituals?
BeON has a culture of openness and collaboration. The team is a great mix of eternal optimists and anxious pessimists, which makes for rich conversation about new ideas. We have daily team lunches where everyone is sitting together to exchange and bring their own perspective about an idea or an issue.

Being a startup, we have limited resources and need to focus, however we value idea exploration and prototypes to open new possibilities. These are showcased during our demo Fridays, where we can get feedback from team and see the excitement about a new feature or challenge that was just solved.

Share with us a fun fact about your company?
Half of the company ride a bike to the office, which is just as well because we love takeaway food trucks. (Especially the chicken and rice guys!)

What do you love about embedded and IoT development?
The possibilities are endless. No matter what problem you are trying to solve, IoT technology offers a way to access cloud and mobile infrastructure and leverage web services, so that you don’t have to build everything yourself.

Where do you and your team get inspiration for your work?
Knowing that our daily work has an impact for thousands of families who are using our product, and are delighted by the experience and trust our company. Hearing from customers and partners about what’s working and where there are issues brings a great deal of motivation to continue improving and reaching new milestones.

Who is your technology hero?
Nikola Tesla, whose inventions still have a long lasting impact today.

When enduring a long day, how do you and your team stay energized? (e.g. energy drinks, chocolate chip cookies, power naps, etc.)
I would like to say “power naps” but the day goes by so quickly! We recharge taking quality time with our families before doing it all over again the next day.

Where do you see the IoT industry in 10 years?
The technology will work at very low power (<10 mW) and will be very low cost (<1$) including a ubiquitous cloud connection.

How many apps has your company created using Qualcomm technology?
Our Bluetooth mesh products communicate with the mobile phone and the backend server via our mobile apps. We host a backend server to backup customer data and provide notifications for customer support. We currently have one iOS app and one Android app available in app stores.

What projects are you working on using Qualcomm resources?
We’re using the Qualcomm Internet of Things (IoT) Development Platform, and our smart security lighting system uses CSRmesh, a flood mesh solution based on the Qualcomm Bluetooth Smart radio. This allows BeON smart bulbs to communicate with one another, as well as with the BeON mobile app and accessories without needing a hub or router.

How did CSRmesh assist in the final development of your app?
The CSRmesh solution comes with an SDK that includes documented libraries and iOS/Android example apps designed around the lighting uses cases. Defining and designing a secure and reliable Bluetooth mesh network including over-the-air updates is a challenging task that requires a significant level of resources. CSRmesh includes software, hardware and documentation to get up and running quickly.

Did using it speed up your development process?
Yes, I don’t think we would have been able to release products in a 6-9 month time frame without this technology being available.

Keep up with BeON Home on Facebook and Twitter, and take a look at the CSR101x Product Family on QDN - including information about the CSRmesh solution.