Bluetooth is a remarkably flexible and inexpensive way for Makers to communicate between devices, but it has limitations that nearly everyone runs up against pretty quickly: its 30-foot range and the fact that devices can only connect to one thing at a time. For more distance, or more complex networks, Wi-Fi is the next (and more expensive) step up.
Cassia Networks came to CES with a remarkable proposition that starts to challenge Wi-Fi. The Cassia Hub ($100 and available this quarter) claims to extend Bluetooth range to 1,000 feet in open space. More than that, it can switch up to 22 Bluetooth devices, so you can assign, for instance, a music source to any of a number of remote speakers, or a development board to several output devices.
What that means for Makers is that the Cassia Hub promises to change the Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi discussion. Makers can now get low cost and longer battery life out of Bluetooth and range and connection to Ethernet networks usually the province of Wi-Fi.
The routing, the company said, is performed on a smartphone app. The Hub works with any Bluetooth 4.0 device — Classic or Low Energy (BLE) — and can also act as Wi-Fi hub and 10-Base-100 Ethernet hub.