Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ZigBee Alliance Targets Telecom Applications

The ZigBee Alliance announced its expansion into the telecom market with a new initiative for extending mobile telephone networks while providing new capabilities for mobile phone users. The new ZigBee Telecom Profile will feature secure mobile payment, information delivery, health care monitoring, peer-to-peer small data sharing and other location based services and features.

Key members of the ZigBee Alliance supporting this expansion into the telecom market include Motorola, Huawei Technologies, Samsung Electronics, ETRI, KDDI R&D Laboratories Inc., OKI Electric Industry, Orange FT, Telecom Italia and TSC Systems.

The companies are examining ways to leverage ZigBee capabilities: low power, reliable mesh networking, AES128 security, low data rate and global network acceptance.

ZigBee mobile devices could include mobile telephones and personal digital assistants with embedded ZigBee technology or using a ZigBee SIM card. These devices could act as a mobile terminal and/or as a sensor control device anywhere there is a ZigBee network or ZigBee access point.

The ZigBee Alliance said potential applications currently in development include:

  • Secure Mobile Payments: Mobile users pay for goods and services by waving handset in front of scanner and entering a pin number

  • Information Delivery: Users receive news, downloads (messages, ring tones, images, etc.), advertisements from network operators or localized information such as weather, traffic updates and movie showtimes based on their current location or neighborhood

  • Health Care Monitoring: Continuously monitored health data is recorded on a handset and transmitted to the patient's doctor. In an emergency situation, such as the absence of patient response or alarming vital signs, the mobile device can be programmed to immediately alert emergency services

  • Peer-to-Peer Small Data Sharing: Small files such as ring tones, images, address book contacts and other information provided by telecom operators is shared easily between two ZigBee-enabled mobile devices

  • Location Based Services: Discounted rates for calls from a ZigBee mobile phone users in a certain zone offers savings to users
  • In September 2006, The ZigBee Alliance announced the completion and immediate member availability of its enhanced version of the ZigBee standard. Public availability of the standard is scheduled for the first quarter of 2007. The original ZigBee standard was ratified by members in December 2004.

  • The enhanced ZigBee spec continues use of mesh networking to communicate over the globally available 2.4 GHz frequency and 868/915 MHz technology is available in select countries.

    ZigBee uses digital spread spectrum technology and offers a large number of channels for noise immunity.

    The ZigBee protocol is designed to accommodate more than 65,000 devices on a single network.

  • Group Devices –- OEMs may create groups of devices, while allowing individual devices to belong to multiple groups. With the push of one button, all lights in a home could be turned off, or turn off all of the lights on a single floor or a single room. ZigBee enables endless design possibilities.

  • Easy Maintenance -– ZigBee technology prevents a single point-of-failure on the network and allows for easy replacement or repair of devices through a simple process of storing a device's information onto a nearby device.

  • Targeted Broadcasts -– Broadcasts of commands can be specified for specific types of devices: routers, “awake�? or “sleeping�? devices. This feature reduces RAM requirements, lowering the total cost of the components for ZigBee products.

  • Over-the-Air Setup –- Opens the door for an array of new setup tools to facilitate adding devices to a network. The setup tools can be used to bind specific devices, such as a light fixture and a corresponding switch, together, and professional installers may use the tools to modify a network on a larger scale.

  • The ZigBee Alliance said that a typical low-power ZigBee device should run on universally available batteries for years, eliminating the need for wiring to a power source and providing unparalleled convenience and flexibility.

See also