LoWPAN on Android Things


Posted by Dave Smith,
Developer Advocate for IoT




Creating robust connections between IoT devices can be difficult. WiFi and
Bluetooth are ubiquitous and work well in many scenarios, but suffer limitations
when power is constrained or large numbers of devices are required on a single
network. In response to this, new communications technologies have arisen to
address the power and scalability requirements for IoT.



Low-power Wireless Personal Area Network (LoWPAN) technologies are specifically
designed for peer-to-peer usage on constrained battery-powered devices. Devices
on the same LoWPAN can communicate with each other using familiar IP networking,
allowing developers to use standard application protocols like HTTP and CoAP.
The specific LoWPAN technology that we are most excited about is href="https://www.threadgroup.org/What-is-Thread/Overview">Thread: a secure,
fault-tolerant, low-power mesh-networking technology that is quickly becoming an
industry standard.



Today we are announcing API support for configuring and managing LoWPAN as a
part of Android Things Developer Preview 6.1, including first-class networking
support for Thread. By adding an 802.15.4 radio module to one of our href="https://developer.android.com/things/hardware/index.html">developer
kits, Android Things devices can communicate directly with other peer
devices on a Thread network. These types of low-power connectivity solutions
enable Android Things devices to perform href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edge_computing">edge computing tasks,
aggregating data locally from nearby devices to make critical decisions without
a constant connection to cloud services. See the LoWPAN href="https://developer.android.com/things/sdk/apis/lowpan.html">API guide
for more details on building apps to create and join local mesh networks.


Getting Started



OpenThread makes getting started with LoWPAN
on Android Things easy. Choose a supported radio platform, such as the href="https://openthread.io/platforms/nrf52840">Nordic nRF52840, and
download pre-built
firmware
to enable it as a Network Co-Processor (NCP). Integrate the radio
into Android Things using the href="https://github.com/androidthings/contrib-drivers/tree/master/lowpan">LoWPAN
NCP user driver. You can also expand support to other radio hardware by
building your own user drivers. See the LoWPAN href="https://developer.android.com/things/sdk/drivers/lowpan.html">user driver
API guide for more details.



To get started with DP6.1, use the href="https://partner.android.com/things/console">Android Things Console to
download system images and flash existing devices. Then download the LoWPAN sample app to try it
out for yourself! LoWPAN isn't the only exciting thing happening in the latest
release. See the href="https://developer.android.com/things/preview/releases.html#preview-6-1">release
notes for the full set of fixes and updates included in DP6.1.


Feedback



Please send us your feedback by filing href="https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/new?component=192720&template=847005">bug
reports and href="https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/new?component=192720&template=848805">feature
requests, as well as asking any questions on href="https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/android-things">Stack
Overflow. You can also join Google's IoT
Developers Community
on Google+, a great resource to get updates and discuss
ideas. Also, we have our new hackster.io
community
, where everyone can share the amazing projects they have built. We
look forward to seeing what you build with Android Things!


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