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In 2001, Cassia Networks Founder, Felix Zhao worked for Cisco and at the time they asked him to do a report on the market readiness for the Internet of Things (IoT). After several months of research, investigation, testing, and meeting with many related vendors, Felix concluded that due to a lack of smartphone penetration, lack of cloud services, and no standard for wireless communication protocols that the world was not ready yet for IoT. He then spent from 2005 to 2010 founding and building his own wireless mesh technology company, Azalea, which he ultimately sold to Aruba Networks (NASDAQ listed: ARUN; merged with HP in 2015). Two years later he started thinking of the idea of creating a Bluetooth Router for IoT applications. 

By this time, smartphones had become prevalent, the cloud infrastructure for services had matured, and four protocols existed for wireless control: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and Z-wave. However, none were coming out on top for IoT applications. Z-wave has little relevance outside of the US. Zigbee is used internationally but compatibility between chipset makers is bad. Wi-Fi is widely used for broadband communication but uses a lot of energy and has a very short battery life, which is a fatal shortcoming for many IoT applications. Given these limitations, Bluetooth seemed to be the best contender with over 3 Billion Bluetooth products shipped in 2014, being universally compatible on every smartphone & a multitude of devices, and its chipsets are cheap & low energy. 

Despite all of the positive characteristics of Bluetooth, there are three big limitations that exist today that are preventing Bluetooth from being used for many important IoT applications:

  • Short range (typically 10 meters or so) with no interior wall penetration
  • One to one pairing and connectivity is hard to debug when link is not stable
  • No remote control of the home or office Bluetooth devices while the user is not at home or in the office

Working with his team, Felix strived to develop solutions for each of these problems. After 2 years of intense research & development, lots of testing, and 7 patent filings later, the Cassia Hub, the first long range Bluetooth router was born.

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