The ZigBee Alliance announced that the latest update to its Home Automation standard is now ready for product development. The Home Automation standard is one of several ZigBee application standards that provide flexible frameworks for designers of specific uses of the ZigBee wireless technology.

The standard permits the setup of a home-area network of ZigBee-enabled devices to monitor power usage, turn appliances on or off, control lighting, and monitor and control home devices from anywhere in the world via the Internet with a smart phone. It emphasizes easy DIY installation and uses ZigBee’s mesh networking feature to make it easy to add or remove controlled or monitored items. ZigBee uses the popular unlicensed 2.4-GHz spectrum and fully coexists with Wi-Fi to minimize interference.

The new 1.2 version of the standard adds several important new features that improve the battery life for security sensors to over seven years, standardize device pairing, and simplify installation and maintenance for consumers and installers alike. The new features should have a major impact on operational and device costs to service providers and quality of service (QoS) to consumers.

Some of the version 1.2 enhancements include support for new devices like door locks, smart appliances, and electrical measurement devices. These added features benefit consumers by integrating new devices and raising consumer awareness of energy usage without necessarily connecting to the electric utility.

Acomprehensive certification and testing program is also available to ensure that there is full interoperability of all devices from any manufacturer. Already, 19 version 1.2 products have achieved certification. The new standard can be downloaded free from www.zigbee.org.