One of the main players in the Internet of Things communications space, The ZigBee Alliance, announced that it has merged six existing standards covering everything from building automation to healthcare to form a single standard:ZigBee 3.0.
The announcement, last week, comes as ZigBee looks to compete with other emerging IoT standards. It says ZigBee 3.0 will provide interoperability among a wide range of smart devices that communicate based on its technology, laying the ground work for an expansion of IoT technologies.
The new standard is being tested. According to the Alliance, the initial release of ZigBee 3.0 includes ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Light Link, ZigBee Building Automation, ZigBee Retail Services, ZigBee Health Care, and ZigBee Telecommunication services.
The switch will impact tens of millions of devices already using ZigBee standards. However, the transition to ZigBee 3.0 will be gradual, as devices designed to use some of its constituent standards eventually transition to the unified standard.
|Read more Security Ledger coverage of emerging Internet of Things standards.|
Developers looking to use ZigBee in new products will use the 3.0 standards. The Alliance said that all device types, commands, and functionality defined in current ZigBee PRO-based standards are available to developers in the new standard.
According to a published FAQ, the new standards are designed to take advantage of advancements in both hardware and software that make up connected products. In the past, ZigBee tailored individual standards to the processor and communications limitations of specific devices. But the emergence of fast, low-cost system-on-chip (or SOC) components and the larger, market demand for integration between products drove the Alliance towards consolidation.
Alliance members, including The Kroger Co., Legrand, NXP, Philips, Schneider Electric, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, Wincor Nixdorf and V-Mark contributed to the design and testing of the new standard. The Alliance expects to demonstrate it at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January and to have the new standards ratified by the fourth quarter of 2015.
Still a common wireless protocol used in connected devices for the business and consumer markets, ZigBee has taken a back seat to competing technologies like Bluetooth Low Energy (or BLE) in recent years, as companies look to minimize energy use on low power IoT platforms and integrate with technology that is commonly available in mobile devices.
Read more on the ZigBee Alliance Web site here.