ZigBee Gets Some Buzz
By Mike Masnick, Tue Dec 14 23:00:00 GMT 2004

While not attracting nearly as much attention as various other wireless standards, the low power, low bandwidth and low cost ZigBee wireless solution has now been approved and should start getting much more attention soon.


It seems that there are two things to expect with just about any wireless standard these days. First, is the inevitable standards squabble. Two (or potentially, more) sides will each have its own patented technology that absolutely must be included in the standard. Then, one company that wants to get a jump on the market and will push out a "pre-standard" proprietary solution leading to more squabbling over standards and compatibility. The second issue with any wireless standard is the inevitable "what other standard does this standard compete with?" debate. Is Wi-Fi competing with 3G or will WiMAX kill Bluetooth? It's easy to become overwhelmed with these types of stories no matter how off-base or irrelevant they may be.

While the ZigBee standard has experienced a little of both of these things, for the most part, it's been able to stay above the fray, and today the ZigBee Alliance announced that the spec is now ratified. At the rate things are going, this means we can expect actual shipping ZigBee-based products on the market early next year. It looks like the fears over pre-standard ZigBee equipment were likely overblown, and there haven't yet been too many "ZigBee vs. Bluetooth" stories -- and hopefully it will remain that way.

ZigBee is all about being "low" in everything: low power, low bandwidth and (most importantly) low cost. It's much more about connecting machines to machines than about ever directly touching a user. In other words, its more about sensor equipment than Internet access. However, that doesn't mean ZigBee won't become an important part of the mobile Internet.

By connecting devices together, such as for home control and home automation, it then makes it possible to connect that data out to the Internet, making it all available to the mobile user. While initial offerings will likely cover simple implementations for things like controlling lights and thermostats remotely, providing an easy interface from machine to machine to the Internet opens up a world of possibilities that wasn't available before. That is, of course, until someone comes along telling us all how UWB/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/HomeRF or some other solution is suddenly going to make this standard obsolete.