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A scatternet is a type of network that is formed between two or more Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as smartphones and newer home appliances. A scatternet is made up of at least two piconets.
Bluetooth devices are peer units that act as slaves or masters. Scatternets are formed when a device in a piconet, whether a master or a slave, decides to participate as a slave to the master of another piconet. This device then becomes the bridge between the two piconets, connecting both networks.
In order for a scatternet to form, one Bluetooth unit must submit as a slave to another piconet to become a bridge for both networks. If the master of a piconet is the bridge to another piconet, it functions as a slave in the other piconet, even though it is a master of its own piconet. The device participating in both piconets can relay data between members of both networks.
However, basic Bluetooth protocol does not support this type of relay, so the host software of each device needs to manage it. Using this approach, it is possible to join together numerous piconets into a large scatternet, and to expand the physical size of the network beyond Bluetooth's limited range. A scatternet can thus support communication between more than eight devices, which is the limit for a piconet.
The value of scatternets is still being discovered, but a valuable function could be communication between small robots. The robots could connect to each other, with one acting as the master and the others as slaves. Different teams of piconets could form larger scatternets for more thorough coverage of an area. This type of scatternet could have potential uses in bomb disposal and search and rescue.