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ZigBee Wireless Networking Specification Finalized

You've probably heard of Bluetooth wireless networking, but you may not have heard of "ZigBee," whose specification was finalized last week. Bluetooth works well for wireless headsets and other very short range applications, but the ZigBee Alliance sees its standard as better suited for interconnecting multiple devices in monitoring, control and sensing networks.

The ZigBee specification allows devices to communicate when needed while consuming very little power. It also allows full function devices to act as a "mesh network," relaying information from sensors between other devices. This could be especially useful in a security system where it may be difficult to find a location where a base station could see all the devices it monitors.

Andrew Wale, vice president of business development at the Advance Transformer Company, part of Philips Electronics NA, said, "The announcement of the ZigBee specification is a major milestone in wireless networking. As a member of the Alliance, we have been following closely the development and ratification of the specification and look forward to bringing innovative new products to consumers using the ZigBee technology."

Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, expects to see ZigBee-based products early next year. "The adoption of the ZigBee specification gives member companies the opportunity to capitalize on this innovative technology for monitoring, sensing and control applications in residential and commercial environments," he said. Heile expects to see ZigBee-compliant products by early 2005.

Althouogh it could be a while before this technology appears in broadcast plants, the combination of extremely low power consumption, peak information data rates up to 250 kbps, and the ability to link with other ZigBee devices to form mesh networks to extend coverage beyond the typical 50m range could make it an extremely interesting technology for the home.ZigBee uses frequencies in the 2.4 GHz (250 kbps data rates), 915 MHz (40 kbps data rate) and 868 MHz (20 kbps) bands.

Download the Word document, "ZigBee Technology: Wireless Control that Simply Works" by Patrick Kinney from the ZigBee Alliance Resources web page for more details.