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ZigBee Unveils New Features

ZigBee licensees are given more choice as they design products.

San Ramon, CA–The ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in utility, commercial building, and consumer applications, has approved new features for the ZigBee specification giving more choices to manufacturers as they design ZigBee products.

“The market for wireless sensor networking technology is growing significantly, enabled by a number of factors, one of which is the continuing development of standards such as ZigBee,” said Sam Lucero, senior analyst with ABI Research. “ZigBee addresses the largest cross-section of WSN market segments, and the new features announced today will further enhance ZigBee’s suitability for use in the largest commercial WSN deployments.”

The ZigBee specification offers all the wide-ranging features released in 2006, and adds new features, giving manufacturers greater flexibility when designing innovative ZigBee products. The original set of features published in 2006 is now known as the ZigBee Feature Set. An expanded set of features known as ZigBee PRO maximizes all the capabilities of ZigBee and facilitates ease-of-use and advanced support for larger networks. These features expand product development options available to manufacturers. The newly released Feature Sets are designed to interoperate with each other, ensuring long-term use and stability. Highlights of the expanded ZigBee PRO Feature Set include:

Network Scalability Improved support for larger networks offering more management, flexibility, performance choices

Fragmentation New ability to divide longer messages and enable interaction with other protocols and systems

Frequency Agility Networks dynamically change channels should interference occur

Automated Device Address Management Optimized for large networks with added network management and configuration tools

Group Addressing Offers additional traffic optimization needed for large networks

Wireless Commissioning Enhanced with secure wireless commissioning capabilities

Centralized Data Collection Tuned specifically to optimize information flow in large networks

The new features of ZigBee will dramatically expand its capabilities and lead to new meaningful products from companies around the world, said Eddy Odjik, vice president of standardization at Philips. Philips is a supporter of ZigBee and has played a role in developing ZigBee into a unique, versatile wireless technology that will simplify many peoples lives in the coming years.

In addition to its original capabilities, the ZigBee Feature Set also gains optional use of the Frequency Agility and Fragmentation features described above. Access to the updated ZigBee specification is available immediately for all members. Free public availability of the new features is scheduled for early 2008.

ZigBee now gives unparalleled choices for companies looking for the right low-power, low-cost wireless networking standard, said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. These new features make ZigBee stronger and play a key role in expanding ZigBees value as a key part of innovative AMI programs for utility companies around the world. No other technology can wirelessly connect an exterior utility meter to an interior home automation network or building control networks as efficiently and effectively as ZigBee.

With the addition of these additional features to the ZigBee specification, the Alliance is shifting its attention to development efforts facilitating the deployment of the technology for energy management and efficiency, specifically in areas like public application profiles for advance metering infrastructure (AMI). Public application profiles enable end-to-end, multi-vendor interoperable solutions in markets such as AMI, home automation, commercial building automation and telecommunications.

ZigBee uses self-organizing and self-healing mesh networking to enable robust communications over the globally available 2.4 GHz frequency, with 868/915 MHz technology available in select countries. ZigBee networks offer superb interference immunity and capabilities to host thousands of devices. With ultra low-power requirements, ZigBee devices run on regular batteries for years, eliminating the need for wiring to a power source and offering unparalleled maintenance convenience and installation flexibility.

The ZigBee Alliance has multi-market and global appeal along with steadily growing membership. Today, more than 225 companies from 28 countries spanning six continents are Alliance members. ZigBee is a volunteer driven Alliance relying upon the support of its members to develop the standard and public profiles. Manufacturers now represent 50 percent of the membership, up from 37 percent in 2006.