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ZigBee Alliance plans further integration of internet protocol standards

electron

Administrator
Staff member
The ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating standardized wireless solutions for use in energy management, commercial and consumer applications, today announced it will incorporate global IT standards from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) into its specification portfolio of low-power wireless networking standards. This move will expand the growing portfolio of successful ZigBee specifications and should further advance the rapid growth of Smart Grid applications that have widely adopted the proven ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile.

By incorporating IETF standards, ZigBee Smart Energy products will enhance their application capabilities with native IP support, allowing seamless integration of Internet connectivity into each product. ZigBee members will also benefit from the knowledge and experience contained in IETF standards for large scale network addressability, security and IT integration, further building on existing expertise from developing the world’s leading technologies in the area of reliable, low-cost wireless sensor and control networks.

Through cooperative efforts with IETF, ZigBee members will create additional innovative solutions for wireless sensor and control networks as part of the new specification. Internet connectivity is currently provided by existing ZigBee specifications; however, the addition of native IP support will offer tighter integration from wireless devices all the way to large scale utility IT networks. The resulting specification will further broaden ZigBee’s suite of low-power wireless network solutions to meet the diversified needs of companies in the home, automation, healthcare, commercial building automation, telecommunications and consumer markets.

“This activity creates a win-win for everyone by combining the strengths of the ZigBee Smart Energy standard with the ubiquity of Internet standards and confirms that smart meter deployments currently underway will have a seamless path for continuous upgrades including Internet connectivity,†said Paul De Martini, vice president at Southern California Edison. “ZigBee Smart Energy solutions are playing a key role in our Smart Grid enabled programs that will provide our customers with choice and promote long term sustainability.†An Edison International company, Southern California Edison is the largest electric utility in the state of California, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts.

The Alliance provides the leading low-power wireless networking standards that are open, extensible and easily upgradable. It will build on the success of existing Smart Grid deployments of smart meters and Home Area Networks (HAN) using the ZigBee Smart Energy profile. This move will greatly assist global standardization efforts for Smart Grid applications including HAN devices, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), distributed generation and storage applications.

“This is what our members have been looking for – the established, respected and mature capability of ZigBee wireless standards coupled with native IP capabilities along with the support of the IETF,†said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “Our members look forward to collaborating with the IETF on wireless sensor network development. The ZigBee Alliance will continue looking for ways to work with, and support, open standards as part of our continuing development of the world’s leading low-power wireless networking solutions.â€

ZigBee Smart Energy is the only standardized home area network solution in the market today meeting the tough requirements of leading utilities and energy service provider worldwide. The deployment of an estimated 30 million ZigBee equipped smart meters is underway in North America.

ZigBee Smart Energy - The Standard for Energy Management and Efficiency
ZigBee Smart Energy enables wireless communication between utilities, energy service providers and common household devices such as smart thermostats and appliances. It improves energy efficiency by allowing consumers to choose interoperable products from different manufacturers giving them the means to manage their energy consumption more precisely using automation and near real-time information. It also helps utility companies implement new advanced metering and demand response programs to drive greater energy management and efficiency, while responding to changing government requirements.

ZigBee: Control your world
ZigBee is the global wireless language connecting dramatically different devices to work together and enhance everyday life. The ZigBee Alliance is a non-profit association of more than 300 member companies driving development of ZigBee wireless technology. The Alliance promotes world-wide adoption of ZigBee as the leading wirelessly networked, sensing and control standard for use in consumer electronics, energy, home, commercial and industrial areas. For more information, visit: www.ZigBee.org.
 

elcano

Active Member
What is the significance of an enhancement to a virtual standard? After so many years, is ZigBee really going anywhere other than publishing press releases? I mean, the recent announcement on the new Control4 proprietary implementation of a ZigBee dimmer had the word 'oxymoron' all over it. I wonder how they are allowed to use the ZigBee brand name.

Control4 does not appear in ZigBee.org page of certified products (wondery why ;-) ). Even worst, I could not find any references to any security or lightning related product on that page. However, google lists several vendors offering OEM modules. Are these vendors actually selling any products?

I remember that a Cocooner (rocco?) was working on a ZigBee products. Probably he can chime in on what is the problem with the standard. Is it difficult to implement? I wonder if the standard is complete enough to ensure interoperability (that could explain Control4's situation - not that they need any reason to be proprietary, of course). I mean, does the stack include anything more than the radio networking/meshing/routing protocol? Does it include the actual messaging protocol (similar to UPnP, xPL or xAP)? Why is that they have not lived to the hype?
 

AnthonyZ

Active Member
I can't speak to the full protocol (as far as interoperability) because I have only recently started using Zigbee in my own applications and am thus, still learning. I can, however, state that Zigbee is selling like crazy in monitoring, metering and commercial automation. Digi alone is absolutely killing it. Also, there are a handful of companies that play in the home automation space that are part of the alliance. Crestron, Colorado vNet, HAI, Vantage, Carrier, Visonic and RTI to name the obvious.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
When it comes to Home Automation, I doubt you'll ever see a 'standard'. Everyone implementing ZigBee seems to be using it as a 'transport mechanism', and design their own proprietary protocol on top of that. I guess the thinking behind this is that manufacturers don't want customers to buy ZigBee hardware from someone else, at a cheaper price. It sucks, considering how well ZigBee works, but like I said, don't see it change soon.
 

elcano

Active Member
Interesting presentation on the ZigBee Profiles that would have made ZigBee interoperable, if manufacturers actually wanted:
http://www.zigbee.org/imwp/idms/popups/pop...contentID=13712

Ember is marketing the HA profile in their site, but Digi (the leader) is focused in the Smart Energy market, without referencing the 'profile' term directly. They seem to be more interested in marketing their drop-in and iDigi solutions than fostering the profile standards. Actually, all the HA companies developing solutions appear as Ember customers on their web page:
http://www.ember.com/applications_integrat...automation.html
 

RArbour

Member
Zigbee is progressing faster than you may expect. Many early adopters did do exactly what Dan explained by making Zigbee a transport mechanism for their proprietary protocol. Although I cannot speak for those manufactures, I suspect it is because the stack was changing significantly during that time (moving from Zigbee to Zigbee Pro), and the lack of a Home Automation certification. The Zigbee alliance has a strict certification for the Smart Energy devices, the but Home Automation certification is still under testing (coming soon). This forces all manufacturers to develop to the manufacturer specific standards, which causes the interoperability problems.

In my opinion from my experience most developers are following the specification very closely. The Zigbee specification does specify how messages are to be sent, and what messages should be sent for each desired task (For example there is a specific message to turn a dimmer to 50%). In my opinion the interoperability issue lies with the problem of there are several ways do accomplish the same result, all of which follow the specification. Since most ways are optional, each manufacturer picks the way that best suits their needs which may or may not play well with others.

The good news is that with the upcoming Home Automation certification these problems should be resolved. With the increasing popularity of using Zigbee for Smart Energy, a standard of communication with develop quickly.

I have had the experience of taking two Zigbee products from different manufacturers, and making them fully compatible with only a few tweaks. This may not be the case for all products, but I suspect that most products in the market today is only a tweak away from being completely inter-operable.

Ryan
 

mustangcoupe

Senior Member
I have had the experience of taking two Zigbee products from different manufacturers, and making them fully compatible with only a few tweaks. This may not be the case for all products, but I suspect that most products in the market today is only a tweak away from being completely inter-operable.

Ryan

Ryan can you give more details on the above statement? Was this code tweask? or other is this something that homeowners or DIY can do?
 

RArbour

Member
Mustangecoupe,
The tweaks I was referring to was firmware tweaks that is not something that is not DYI friendly. I suspect the devices on the market either fully, partially, or does not inter-operate. I do not believe there is much a DYI can do to change this, except express interest to the manufacturer of the desire to inter-operate with these devices and wait for an update.

Ryan
 

RArbour

Member
The Home Automation Public Application Profile is complete since late 2007. You can download it from their website at:
http://www.zigbee.org/Products/TechnicalDo...37/Default.aspx

Its a 100 pages document.


If you cannot get enough after that light reading, there is also a spec for the Zigbee Protocol and the Smart Energy profile that are real page turners!

You can quickly glance through the documents to get a feel of what Zigbee is capable of with the profiles, and I suspect it has more options than most would think.

Ryan
 

Zanthic

Member
I have had the experience of taking two Zigbee products from different manufacturers, and making them fully compatible with only a few tweaks. This may not be the case for all products, but I suspect that most products in the market today is only a tweak away from being completely inter-operable.
Ryan

I suspect that most products are far from only a "tweak" away from interoperability. A company that has an existing product would either have to orphan their own higher level protocol and take on the standard or they would have to have two versions. There is also the fact that some companies are running encryption which further complicates matters.
 
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