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ZigBee targets internet of things

Industry alliance releases specifications to support low power peer-to-peer wireless mesh, initially for smart grid


Published: 11 April, 2013

READ MORE: M2M | Standards | Zigbee

Chipmakers and standards bodies alike are turning their attention to the vast potential of the internet of things (IoT). The ZigBee Alliance is the latest to act, releasing its third wireless specification, for mesh networks to establish direct links between huge numbers of small devices.

The ZigBee IP for Direct Internet Connections is the first open standard for an IPv6-based wireless mesh network, according to the Alliance's chairman Tobin Richardson, and provides seamless internet connectivity to low power, low cost devices and sensors.

Silicon Labs, Exegin and Texas Instruments will provide the test units for future certification programs, to ensure interoperability, and the Alliance will now seek to establish its new platform as an accepted standard in the as-yet immature world of the 'internet of everything' - where other specifications like Weightless, low power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also battling for position.

The new spec builds on the current IEEE 802.15.4 standard by adding network and security layers and an application framework. It incorporates a scalable architecture with end-to-end IPv6 networking, laying the foundation for an IoT without the need for intermediate gateways.

It creates a mesh based on standard internet protocols, such as 6LoWPAN, IPv6, PANA, RPL, TCP, TLS and UDP. It includes end-to-end security mechanisms and runs in the 2.4GHz band, and also in regional options for the Americas (915MHz), Europe (868MHz) and Japan (920MHz).

"Having low power, low cost wireless mesh devices that connect to a variety of smart grid IPv6-based protocols will further expand the internet of things," Mark Grazier, ZigBee board member and marketing manager for wireless connectivity solutions at TI, told EETimes.

The certification of chips is likely to start when the Smart Energy Profile 2, for the smart grid, is completed later this year since ZigBee IP was designed to support this framework, allowing it to target utilities before moving on to more futuristic IoT applications.

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