Particle has announced today that they are discontinuing development of Particle Mesh, their OpenThread-based mesh networking solution, and will no longer be manufacturing their associated Xenon development board.
Highlights from their announcement today:
- Particle will continue investing in its other “Gen 3” products, the flagship cellular (Boron) and Wi-Fi (Argon) product lines… which are powered by a Nordic nRF52840 chip in a Feather form factor.
- …802.15.4 mesh networking turns out to not be the right solution for most of the customers who wanted to use it.
- For those that have purchased Xenons, (the) Mesh-specific product, (Particle) will be sending you a store credit.
Particle states they ran into two barriers which kept them from delivering on the promise with Particle Mesh:
- Mesh networking, while a compelling technology, is extremely complex, and trying to make it “just work” with zero configuration for all customers in all environments just wasn’t feasible. As a result, the experience of Particle Mesh doesn’t live up to the standard that we set for ourselves with our other products.
- It turns out that, for most of our customers, 802.15.4 mesh networking seems to not have been the right technology in the first place; most customers would be better off using Bluetooth Low Energy (which we will continue to invest in) or a sub-GHz radio like LoRa (which can be added to Particle through third-party accessories).
The support timeline:
- March 2020: Device OS release of 1.6 will be the final release to include Particle Mesh support
- June 30, 2020: Technical support via the official support portal for Particle Mesh devices will end; customers may reference community support in the forums
- Dec 31, 2020: ability to set up new mesh networks, or add devices to existing mesh networks will be removed from the mobile app and cloud APIs
- Jan 31, 2021: Network management features (the “networks” page) in the Console will be removed
Are there other ways to use a Xenon: YES!
Reprogram the Xenon with CircuitPython and Adafruit (Easy): You can continue to use the Xenon as an IoT development board by reprogramming it with CircuitPython and working with Adafruit’s other Feather-compatible products — instructions here. This will overwrite Particle’s Device OS.
Use your Xenon for Bluetooth Low Energy (Tough): You can continue to develop with Particle’s Bluetooth Low Energy APIs as long as you activate your Xenons before the end of 2020. Keep in mind the last Device OS to support Particle Mesh will be released in March, so these devices cannot be upgraded beyond that version. You can also use the Xenon disconnected from the Particle Device Cloud (manual mode) to act as a BLE end point, though it must be flashed via Workbench or the CLI tool and does not include OTA capabilities. More information here.
Develop on OpenThread SDKs directly (Expert Only): You can access the Nordic nRF52840 SDKs to develop with OpenThread’s mesh networking protocols. This will require a third-party gateway and will overwrite Particle’s Device OS. More details here.
The announcements ends with “But the silver lining here is that this decision frees us up to invest more deeply in the technology that we’re most excited about – cellular connectivity for IoT.”