Pyxos: A challange to ZigBee?


Staff member
Paris — A new, media-independent control-networking technology that has trained its sights on an eventual role in the low-cost wireless-sensor network market could pose a challenge to ZigBee, the open wireless standard based on IEEE 802.15.4 radio.

LonWorks control-networking platform creator Echelon Corp. today will unveil a "light" platform called Pyxos. With the first IC measuring 5 x 5 mm, "Pyxos networks are intended to be integrated inside a sensor or actuator," said Michael Tennefoss, vice president of marketing.

Echelon sees Pyxos' endgame as building pervasive sensor networks, Tennefoss said. "Many sensors are integrated in machines today, and yet the sensed data is usually trapped inside the machine. Our job is to take that information out of the device, process it locally and send it somewhere so that people can take action on it."

The company's LonWorks technology can work over power lines, twisted-pair wire and coaxial cable. The Pyxos platform initially will be implemented over twisted-pair, but Echelon confirmed that the company is quietly working to take it wireless. "Pyxos networks are media-independent," said Tennefoss, whereas "Zigbee only supports RF."

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From this article and my experiences in the automotive testing field have led me to believe that ZigBee and Pyxos are tageting a much larger market with much more money than us DIYers can offer them.

ZigBee is in the business of providing wireless data transfer in Transducers such as accelerometers and pressure sensors. To me this says that maybe z-wave is the one to keep an eye on. Z-wave seems more focused on home automation than the other technologies. Sure we may see some zigbee products that we can use in home automation but I doubt you will see support from software developers in the next few years for any other mesh network protocols. Z-wave made a smart move by getting in early. Now all they have to do is provide affordable products and support for us DIYers and they might survive.

So even though ZigBee and Pyxos is in the news and competitors, you have to look at what they are selling to notice that the direct ther are heading is not in Home Automation. Perhaps some adopters will change this in the future though.

I agree, on multiple levels. I try not to get too excited about Z-Wave lest I sound like a Z-Wave cheerleader, but your analysis is very correct. Without diverting this topic too much:

* IEEE 802.15.4 (with Zigbee extensions) is originally designed for industrial applications such as sensors. It found a market desperate for a good solution in the home automation industry, which is why it has created buzz there. But as manufacturers line up behind it, its heritage and good design as an industrial control/sensor protocol will shine through.

* Z-Wave has been all about home control from the get-go. Zensys has spent years refining the protocol. Just this morning I had a conversation with them about both immediate deliverables and future direction. They're really moving in a good direction, and having Intermatic and Leviton and Logitech release a whole line of really nice products further solidifies their position. [Plus, Monster and Danfoss and Wayne Dalton and Cooper, etc.] Yes, there are a lot of applications with Z-Wave outside the home control world (like building automation, and low-bandwidth protocols for use by non-automation closed systems). But they are really pushing to get every lighting manufacturer online with Z-Wave (as well as climate control and a whole bunch of other device types). So I am fairly confident that my faith in them is justified.

I love the DIY market. It is here that much of the future of home automation will be decided. Plus it's fun to be on the "bleeding edge." :blink: