A Decade of ZigBee Wireless

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Congratulations to the ZigBee Alliance for celebrating their tenth anniversary this month.  In this fast changing short-range wireless environment, this is a real achievement that shows how widely adopted the ZigBee standard is and how successful it has become.  Hats off to Bob Heile, Chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, for his guidance and leadership in establishing ZigBee as a top wireless technology.

ZigBee is that wireless specification used primarily for wireless monitoring and control functions in the home, in businesses and in industry.  It uses the IEEE 802.15.4 radio technology and standard for the wireless PHY and MAC layers.  ZigBee then provides a stack protocol that can be used for an incredibly diverse range of applications.  Most ZigBee radios operate in the 2.4 GHz unlicensed ISM band with a data rate to 250 kb/s and a maximum range of typically 10 meters or less.  Its major claim to fame is its mesh networking capability with up to 65,000 nodes.  Mesh networking offers the benefits or wider range and greater reliability over other forms of networking.  ZigBee is widely used for wireless sensor networks.

Besides the basic networking functions of ZigBee its greatest contribution is standards that offer fixed stacks and routines that implement specific functions.  These standard stacks ride on the basic ZigBee and 802.15.4 protocol stacks to perform widely used functions.  The ZigBee Alliance currently offers these standards:

·         Building Automation

·         Health Care

·         Home Automation

·         Input Device

·         Light Link

·         Network Devices

·         Remote Control

·         Smart Energy

·         Telecom services

·         Green Power

The ZigBee Alliance also certifies products to ensure interoperability and across the board compliance to the standards.  The Alliance has over 400 company members who offer more than 600 ZigBee certified products.  Just a few of the products include lights and light switches, door locks, thermostats, cable set top boxes, remote controls, and smart meters.  A wide range of ZigBee drop-in modules are available to build wireless products quickly and easily.

If you are looking for an open wireless standard for short-range projects, ZigBee is worth considering.  It is an ideal choice for Internet of Things projects and is a viable option for some M2M projects.  Check out the details at www.zigbee.org.

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Lou Frenzel

Lou Frenzel is the Communications Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles, columns, blogs, technology reports, and online material on the wireless, communications...
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