Sunday, April 24, 2005

ZigBee finally certifying products

A few days ago I wrote of the importance of machine-to-machine communications in cleantech, and specifically in regards to sensors networks.

Good timing, because it appears that earlier this month the ZigBee Alliance announced they have formalized their certification process and have approved a first few certified products. What, you may ask, is ZigBee?

ZigBee (named after the method by which honeybees communicate) is the nickname for a low-power, low-data, cost-effective wireless communications standard based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard. In past years many now-familiar wireless standards ("WiFi", "WiMax", "Bluetooth", etc.) have been similarly defined, but for sensors and other such applications you don't need as much data, and you can't afford to use as much power, as those established standards use. See this article for some more information on why ZigBee could be a big deal -- and some of the challenges facing its widespread adoption.

Lacking a certification process and approved products, it has been tough for early adopters to use ZigBee to build homogenous sensor/ remote monitoring/ control networks. Thus, the ZigBee Alliance has been developing the definitions and certification process for the ZigBee standard. It remains to be seen if vendor interoperability and other challenges will be addressed by the formalization of this process, but either way this is a good step forward for ZigBee-based technology providers -- and their investors.


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