There are many different technologies and, hence, many different opportunities for developers to create connected devices. However, a key challenge for system designers in enabling this diversity of applications and for the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver its full potential is interoperability between individual IoT products.
Interoperability between different IoT products is going to be a critical factor in convincing end users to implement connected objects in their environments and in making their purchasing decisions. With short-range wireless connectivity technologies like zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and NFC, there are many different languages, and getting products to talk to and share information freely with each other would enable easier implementation and operation of smart homes, buildings, connected lighting, and many other use cases for smart connected devices. One of the technologies aiming to enable such interoperability is zigbee, which is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and operates at 2.4 GHz (a frequency available for use around the world).
The latest 3.0 version of zigbee simplifies the choice for developers creating IoT products and services by delivering all the features of zigbee while unifying the zigbee application standards found in devices already installed today. The zigbee 3.0 standard enables communication and interoperability among devices for smart homes, connected lighting, and other markets, giving consumers and businesses access to products and services that will work together without requiring additional set up or programming. zigbee 3.0 defines more than 35 devices for home automation, lighting, energy management, smart appliance, security, sensors, and health care monitoring products. It supports both DIY installations and professionally installed systems.
Meanwhile, the zigbee alliance recently announced dotdot, a universal application-level language for the IoT, making it possible for smart objects to work together on any network. The zigbee alliance says it is collaborating with other standards groups to bring dotdot to multiple IP networks and connectivity technologies, aiming to make it an open standard. It has already announced a liaison with the Thread Group to implement dotdot beyond zigbee networks.
There are several companies offering zigbee 3.0 compliant platforms to enable interoperable IEEE802.15.4 devices. zigbee 3.0 compliant platform certification ensures that zigbee solutions from any company conform to the latest zigbee alliance requirements, providing seamless interoperability between multiple products from multiple vendors. Certified products based on these platforms have the advantage of being backward-compatible with a large base of already-installed IoT products based on various earlier versions of zigbee. They can connect to each other and communicate using the same IoT language.
The zigbee 3.0 compliant platform helps in standardizing product development across all IoT networking layers, from the lower layers defining how products connect, all the way up to the application layer, which determines how products communicate, perform tasks with each other, and deliver a consistent and secure user experience.
By enabling development of interoperable products, zigbee 3.0 compliant platforms lay the foundation of unified inter-device communications, which previously might have required complex code to translate between different products developed by different vendors. By using these platforms and following the standards, developers and customers can focus on their individual application development without worrying about interoperability with products based on zigbee or even other technologies. This will help unlock the full potential of the IoT in the home, in workplaces, and in cities.