The ZigBee Alliance, an association of companies working to enable wirelessly networked monitoring and control products based on an open global standard, announced on April 11 four ZigBee-compliant platforms from Chipcon, with U.S. offices in Cupertino, Calif., CompXs, of Santa Clara, Calif., Ember Corp., based in Boston, and Freescale Semiconductor Inc., of Austin, Texas. Using testing services provided by the Alliance’s official test houses, National Technical Systems Inc., Calabasas, Calif., and German-based TUV Rheinland, and leveraging analysis tools from Daintree Networks Inc., San Jose, Calif., the Alliance conducted testing on these platforms to ensure complete interoperability.
“The big news from this release is that ZigBee is not just real, it’s ready,” proclaims John Morris, vice president of marketing at Chipcon company Figure 8 Wireless, in San Diego. Morris elaborates that customers now can start to build products incorporating ZigBee technology with assurance that they are building on a platform supported by many vendors based on conformance to industry standards.
ZigBee-compliant platforms include the IEEE 802.15.4 radio and the ZigBee stack up to the application layer. Both will be available as either chips or modules for use in end products. The Alliance’s testing approach is designed to ensure that products based on ZigBee-compliant platforms from different vendors will be able to form into a single, cohesive wireless ZigBee network capable of passing data for all applications on the network. This ensures multi-vender interoperability of products that are based on the ZigBee platform and use an Alliance-approved application. The Alliance expects to begin certification testing of end user products based on these platforms and ZigBee application profiles in the coming months.
“Since before the ZigBee specification was ratified, the Alliance has been developing a testing strategy so we could assure the market that all ZigBee products using a ZigBee platform and application would be interoperable,” says Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “We spent the last quarter focused on finalizing this platform compliance process and are now executing a testing strategy intended to ensure the fast and successful development of ZigBee products by the member companies based on these platforms. The ZigBee-compliant platforms from Chipcon, CompXs, Ember and Freescale Semiconductor represent a culmination of almost a year’s worth of testing within the Alliance. These members have taken a leadership role in this process, and the Alliance appreciates their willingness to undergo extensive test scenarios in order to create a test standard and process for all members.”
The Alliance is now completing its certification and logo program for testing end products, such as thermostats, smoke detectors and lighting control devices based on ZigBee compliant platforms and approved ZigBee application profiles. For at least the first year, the ZigBee Alliance will require members to test their end product devices at one of the two test houses, and then participate in an Alliance-sponsored interoperability testing event to confirm interoperability with other like products in a ZigBee network. Once a device has successfully completed both steps, the test house will issue a certificate declaring the product ZigBee-certified, which the company can then submit to the Alliance for logo issuance and licensing.