ZigBee group clears spec for wireless sensor nets

The ZigBee Alliance has ratified the first specification for wireless sensor networks.

The ZigBee specification is the result of two years’ work by more than 100 companies that make up the alliance. The document lays out the higher-layer requirements for low-cost, very low-power, wireless mesh radios that can be coupled with an array of sensors.

The sensors can detect such things as temperature, vibration, liquid volumes or flow, movement and moisture. The data is passed over the mesh net, in the 2.4-GHz band, to a gateway and then to conventional servers and applications.

The technology has promising application in building automation and industrial controls.

The alliance’s work builds on the underlying physical-layer and MAC-layer requirements spelled out in the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, which is part of the 802.15 work on personal area networks. That standard was approved in May 2004.

With the Zigbee specification final, vendors can start to update current hardware and software products and speed others to market. An array of silicon, components, radios, and software is currently touted as “Zigbee ready,” awaiting only some code changes. Products implementing the final spec should be ready in 2005.

The alliance will now turn to interoperability and scaling tests and certification. Eventually, it will work on enhancements to the spec.