ZigBee is a new wireless networking standard, developed by ZigBee Alliance. It is targeted to monitoring and control applications (such as light control, sensors data acquisition, etc). ZigBee designed to be low cost, extremely power efficient and provide effective communication with low data rate, needed for most home automation scenarios. Key technical information is provided in the following table:
- Frequencies: 868MHz, 915MHz, 2.4GHz (in revision 2003, more added in later revisions)
- Data rates: 20kb/s, 40kb/s, 250kb/s
- Typical distance: 10-75 meters
- Network: Mesh
- Battery life: Several years
ZigBee is based on IEEE 802.15.4-2003 WPAN (Wireless Personal Area Network) specification, which defines physical (PHY) and medium access control (MAC) layers of protocol. Higher layers, including network (NWK), application support sub-layer (APS) and ZigBee Device Objects (ZDO) are described by ZigBee standard.
One of the most interesting features of ZigBee is possibility of mesh networking, i.e. dynamic network formation from existing nodes. This extends network range and provides higher network reliability by creation of new paths in case of network configuration changes.
ZigBee specification defines so called Profiles of devices, which allow equipment from different manufacturers to interoperate. Usage of ZigBee for standardized products makes it possible to provide a unified integration solution, which will create a link between different types of home automation and serve as a basis for "smart home".