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ZigBee Alliance launches tenth standard: ZigBee Gateway

By: Peter Field
09 August, 2011

A new standard aims to deliver the benefits of ZigBee technology via the Internet.

The ZigBee Alliance has announced the public availability of its tenth standard, called ZigBee Gateway.

The alliance claims the standard provides a simple and cost-effective way to enable Internet connections: "giving service providers, businesses and consumers the opportunity to implement these devices and connect ZigBee networks to the Internet".

The standard is the first in a new category, dubbed ZigBee Network Devices. The alliance – which says it is: "a global ecosystem of organizations creating wireless solutions for use in energy management, residential, commercial and consumer applications"– says the category is for device specific standards designed to assist and expand ZigBee PRO-based networks.

Standards for bridge and range extender devices are set to join ZigBee Gateway in the new category.

"ZigBee Gateway lets manufacturers focus on application development and reduce overall product development time,"the alliance said in a statement.

"[It] provides connectivity to Internet Protocol [IP]-based networks, plus access to a variety of cloud and smartphone services designed for consumers".

According to the alliance, the use of standard interfaces for the ZigBee IP network connection creates the opportunities for universal adapters and to operate the connection with IP back-end systems such as Service- or Machine to Machine-platforms in a standard fashion.

The new standard comes as manufacturers of short-range wireless technologies such as ZigBee, ANT and Bluetooth, are looking to build on demand - particularly in the fitness and health sectors - for low-power body worn wireless sensors able to link to the Internet.

In the health sector, for example, medical authorities are keen to save money by moving care of long term patients from the hospital ward to the home. It’s hoped that body worn wireless sensors, monitoring vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, will communicate with "gateway"devices that will then forward the information to remote physicians via the Internet.

Other applications enabled by ZigBee Gateway include energy monitoring and home automation.
"ZigBee Gateway gives product manufacturers and service providers a smart and easy way to expand device functionality and deliver the benefits of ZigBee control via the Internet,"Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, said.

"ZigBee networks today routinely access the Internet, and ZigBee Gateway makes the job of integrating Internet connectivity simple – especially for developers with little networking experience."

According to UK-based analysts ABI Research, worldwide shipments of IEEE 802.15.4 wireless sensor chipsets into the home are forecast to exceed 242 million a year by 2015, up from 8.5 million in 2010.

ZigBee chips (among other technologies) are based on the IEEE 802.12.4 standard, and ABI estimates that 55 per cent of the overall total will comprise ZigBee technology.

In Australia, a range of ZigBee modules and development kits is available from RS Components and element14.

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