In order to meet my first objective, I need a method of communicating with other devices on the network. There are a number of technologies that could allow this:
- RF Communication
Given all of these, WiFi seems the best and most reliable. RF communication is prone to noise, whilst Bluetooth is more suited to a one to one relationship between master and slave.
WiFi allows for one device to act as an access point, with others connecting to that access point to allow communication to take place.
With all this in mind, the ESP32 looks like a good IC to use. It can act as a WiFi access point, or connect to another access point - exactly what is required.
As an extra bonus, it has Bluetooth built in - it'll be interesting to see if that becomes useful at a later point.
Finally, the entire IC is a microprocessor, negating the need for an external one such as an Arduino or raspberry Pi.
With this decided, I have purchased an ESP32 module - it should arrive in 3 days!