Z-Wave Alliance may not have brand recognition, but it's got security going for it

For anyone with a home security system, chances are good that it has Z-Wave technology in there, but that doesn't mean anyone knows that. That's a challenge the Z-Wave Alliance is constantly trying to address, and it's one that incoming executive director Mitchell Klein will be dealing with as well.


The alliance doesn't have the kind of resources that companies like AT&T (NYSE: T) Digital Life or the ADT alarm company have, and those companies are more interested in pushing their own brands than trying to make a name for Z-Wave. But what Z-Wave does have going for it is a solid base of installed systems and products that can be bought today, Klein says.

A lot of the promise of the Internet of Things already is being delivered by the alliance members and Z-Wave products. Of course, "clearly there's a lot of noise about this Internet of Things or smart home or smart car or whatever term you want to throw at it," he said, adding that there are some very good platforms out there such as Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) HomeKit, Thread/Brillo and the AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn, to name a few.

"These are good platforms, and Z-Wave plays very well with all of them," he told FierceWirelessTech. "We don't really see them as competition."

Klein, who joined the alliance in September as its new executive director, said one of his priorities is to make sure there is collaboration among the different groups. While Z-Wave is an open internationally recognized ITU standard with more than 1,350 certified interoperable products worldwide, it does compete to some extend with the likes of ZigBee, for example, and a lot of companies are gunning to be the dominant technology in the connected home.

Where a lot of those platforms are making a lot of promises, "we can deliver this stuff today," he added. "That's our plan, to collaborate with them and work with them" and ultimately make it a seamless experience for installers and end users who want to buy the products at retail and just have it work.

That said, he doesn't see a single language evolving to deliver on the Internet of Things in the home but the platforms that are emerging will need to work together. That will be the responsibility of organizations like the Z-Wave Alliance, as well as other standards, to build in bridges so that to the end user, it all looks like a single language even though it's not.

Fortunately or unfortunately, coexistence is a requirement, and "we play very well in the coexistence space," he said, adding that unlike ZigBee, there's no question as to whether Z-Wave products will be compatible with one another. "If you have Z-Wave, whether you bought it nine years ago or if you buy it tomorrow, there is a guaranteed level of compatibility," as long as it's got the Z-Wave logo on it, he said.

Security is another strong suit for Z-Wave, he said. Right now, it's got the same level of encryption as online banking, but the alliance is looking at adding a higher level of encryption. "It's very difficult to hack," he said, but "it's about to get even more secure."

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