Zigbee is a typical wireless communication technology and intended to be simpler and less expensive than other WPANs (Wireless personal area network), such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. ZigBee is a specification of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks built from small, low-power digital radios. The ZigBee standard operates on the IEEE 802.15.4 physical radio specification and operates in unlicensed bands including 2.4 GHz, 900 MHz and 868 MHz.  Data rates vary from 20 kbit/s (868 MHz band) to 250 kbit/s (2.4 GHz band). The specification is a packet-based radio protocol intended for  battery-operated devices. The protocol allows devices to communicate in a variety of network topologies and can have battery life lasting several years. Features of the ZigBee standard is great solution for wireless sensor networks and low-cost, low-power wireless M2M networks.

ZigBee features include:

  • Support for multiple network topologies such both star and tree networks and mesh networks
  • consume very low power– provides long battery life
  • Low latency
  • Up to 65,000 nodes per network
  • Secure networking: 128-bit AES encryption for secure data connections
  • Small footprint, high integration, low cost:  chipsets and SoC’s available from multiple sources (vendors) with integrated ZigBee/MAC 802.15.4 stack

A key component of the ZigBee protocol is the ability to support mesh networking. Mesh networking is where a node has the ability to receive a networked signal and also send out the same signal, extending the range of that network. A mesh network topology is a decentralized design where each node is connected to many others, configured to allow connections to be rerouted around broken or blocked paths, with the signal hopping from node to node until it reaches its destination. Mesh networks are self-healing and very reliable. Mesh networks are expected to play an important part in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The ZigBee protocol has been created and ratified by member companies of the ZigBee Alliance and it is designed to communicate data through hostile RF environments that are common in commercial and industrial applications. Designed on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY layers, ZigBee Alliance  provides  a specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols (network and application layers).

ZigBee enables deployment that provides the ability to run for years on inexpensive batteries (such as little watch batteries) for a host of monitoring and control applications. Industrial control (Smart energy/smart grid), Home Control (Security, Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC), Lighting control, Access control/door locks, alarm, home gateways), building automation systems (AMR or Automatic Meter Reading), medical devices (Patient monitoring, Fitness monitoring) , Consumer electronics (like Remote control) and fleet applications are just some of the many spaces where ZigBee technology is making significant advancements.