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What is ZigBee?

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Published on Nov 30, 2010

What is ZigBee?ZigBee is a technology of data transfer in wireless networks. It has low energy consumption and is designed for multi-channel control systems, alarm systems, and lighting control. It also has other various home and industry applications. ZigBee is more economical than Wi-Fi while Bluetooth protocol also consumes more energy and has a greater scattering of parameters of conventionally compatible units. This is caused by the fact that Bluetooth does not have a unified data transfer standard. Still that does not mean that ZigBee is oriented towards autonomous use. Key links of ZigBee networks, such as a network coordinator and routers, are not designed to work from regular or storage batteries. Experts explain economical features of ZigBee not by lack of access of external power supply sources. They note that home automatic devices are becoming more complicated as sometimes as much as a hundred sensors and executive devices are required. Thus such components can consume the same or even bigger amounts of energy as compared with the controlled devices.A smart-house system like that, which uses Wi-Fi, would require several kilowatts of power while ZigBee protocol would need less than 200 watts. Besides, ZigBee has a unified standard of data transfer. Thus all devices of the protocol can interact. ZigBee ensures that networks remain operable in the conditions of a constantly changing quality between communication nodes. ZigBee standard defines a multilayer structure of software. Usually this is called ZigBee protocol stack. Despite the declared simplicity ZigBee stack is not much simpler than TCP/IP protocol stack for small-class add-in devices.It is very costly to purchase the stack in source texts. The stack is usually offered in the form of compiled libraries, also at high prices. It is possible to get a free stack but there libraries would be compiled for quite specific and expensive chips. Finally, there are heavily simplified versions of a ZigBee stack in source texts. Microchip Company offers the most popular model. It is designed for microcontrollers of PIC18 series and Texas Instruments wireless modems. However, the protocol has been updated lately. Thus most ZigBee devices are produced now with a new ZigBee 2006 version. If you want to try out the protocol you may use control unit packages such as МК324 ZigBee.

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