Not only is the ZigBee Alliance ready to help unify the Internet of Things (IoT) with the ratification of ZigBee 3.0, but it's also collaborating with the EnOcean Alliance to cooperate on combining EnOcean energy harvesting solutions with ZigBee 3.0.
The ZigBee Alliance announced last year that it would be unifying its wireless standards into a single, new standard named ZigBee 3.0. ZigBee emerged through multiple application standards that focused on specific vertical markets, such as home automation and healthcare, and ZigBee 3.0 is designed to simplify things and bring all those under one umbrella.
After a year of member testing and development, the ZigBee Alliance announced a significant step in fulfilling its vision with the ratification of ZigBee 3.0. It's a milestone the alliance believes will help propel the IoT past infancy to mainstream market opportunities.
"This was a really important initiative for our members," Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance, told FierceWirelessTech. "This really improves communication and interoperability between products and applications," ranging from the smart home to intelligent buildings and smart cities for applications like connected lighting, energy efficiency and others.
"This really supports the notion of a common applications layer," he said, adding that it's also the first of a number of major steps the alliance is planning over the next 12 to 18 months that are focused on simplifying IoT product development.
The EnOcean Alliance is joining the ZigBee Alliance in that effort. The EnOcean Alliance has been working with energy harvesting wireless solutions going back 14 years at sub-1 GHz, mainly in smart buildings but also in the professional smart home. "There has been a great demand from the marketplace to move to a worldwide frequency and enable new applications, so we decided to offer a 2.4 GHz energy harvesting wireless solution, and for us, ZigBee was the obvious choice here," said Graham Martin, chairman of the EnOcean Alliance. The timing worked out well, too, as the ZigBee Alliance is preparing ZigBee 3.0.
"People are looking for convergence, people are looking for the best of many worlds, and here we're bringing together the best of two worlds, the best of ZigBee and the best of EnOcean energy harvesting," Martin said, noting that given the size of the future IoT, it clearly can't all be powered by cables and batteries, and energy harvesting will play a role.
A technical task force comprising ZigBee Alliance and EnOcean Alliance representatives will define the technical specifications to combine the EnOcean equipment profiles with the ZigBee 3.0 solution. The goal is to have the first combined specification by spring of next year.
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