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What is 6LoWPAN?

6LoWPAN (IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks), is a low power wireless mesh network where every node has its own IPv6 address. This allows the node to connect directly with the Internet using open standards.

6LoWPAN came to exist from the idea that the Internet Protocol could and should be applied even to the smallest devices, and that low-power devices with limited processing capabilities should be able to participate in the Internet of Things.

Advantages of 6LoWPAN:

Uses Open IP Standards

Offers End-To-End IP Addressable Nodes

Offers Self-Healing, Robust and Scalable Mesh Routing

Leaf Nodes Can Sleep For a Long Duration of Time

Offers Thorough Support For The PHY Layer

It is a Standard: RFC6282

  • It works great with open IP standard including TCP, UDP, HTTP, COAP, MATT and web-sockets.
  • It offers end-to-end IP addressable nodes. There’s no need for a gateway, only a router which can connect the 6LoWPAN network to IP.
  • It supports self-healing, robust and scalable mesh routing.
  • Offers one-to-many & many-to-one routing.
  • The 6LoWPAN mesh routers can route data to others nodes in the network.
  • In a 6LowPAN network, leaf nodes can sleep for a long duration of time.
  • It also offers thorough support for the PHY layer which gives freedom of frequency band & physical layer, which can be used across multiple communication platforms like Ethernet, WI-Fi, 802.15.4 or Sub-1GHz ISM with interoperability at the IP level.
  • It is a standard: RFC6282

6LoWPAN Application Areas

With many low power wireless sensor networks and other forms of wireless networks designed to tackle specific problems, it is essential that any new wireless system has a defined area which it addresses. While there are many forms of wireless networks including wireless sensor networks, 6LoWPAN addresses an area that is currently not addressed by any other system, for example, that of using IP, and in particular IPv6 to carry the data.

The overall system is aimed at providing wireless internet connectivity at low data rates and with a low duty cycle. However, there are many applications where 6LoWPAN is being used:

  • Automation:There are enormous opportunities for 6LoWPAN to be used in many different areas of automation.
  • Industrial monitoring: Industrial plants and automated factories provide a great opportunity for 6LoWPAN. Major savings can be made by using automation in every day practices. Additionally, 6LoWPAN can connect to the cloud which opens up many different areas for data monitoring and analysis.
  • Smart Grid: Smart grids enable smart meters and other devices to build a micro mesh network. They are able to send data back to the grid operator’s monitoring and billing system using the IPv6.
  • Smart Home:By connecting your home IoT devices using IPv6, it is possible to gain distinct advantages over other IoT systems.

6LoWPAN Security

6LoWPAN can use AES-128 link layer security which is defined in IEEE 802.15.4. This provides link authentication and encryption.

Further security is provided by the transport layer security mechanisms. This is defined in RFC 5246 and runs over TCP.

For systems where UDP is used, the transport layer protocol defined under RFC 6347 can be used.

Good links for further reading:




Radiocrafts’ RF Modules Supporting 6LowPAN

Radiocrafts’ RC1882CEF-IPM RIIM Module has support for 6LoWPAN. RIIM™ (Radiocrafts Industrial IP Mesh) is an embedded RF system designed to be an all-inclusive, easy to use mesh, with direct IP addressing. The RF protocol is the IEEE802.15.4 g/e standard. RIIM™ includes an Intelligent C-programmable I/O (ICI), which makes it possible to directly interface to any sensor or actuator, and, it supports Mist Computing. RIIM™ does not require any license or subscription fee. Read more about RIIM here.