Zigbee: a Social Network for IoT

Intersog has just successfully shipped a new custom built IoT application to our client - one of U.S. leading providers of energy management solutions based out of Chicago. The project was based on ZigBee technology and our project team found this suite of high-level communication protocols extremely useful for solutions that imply creation of personal area networks with small and low-power digital radios.

Our senior software engineers Igor Rolinskiy told me more about ZigBee, its pros and cons and why it was chosen for building a remote wifi ventilation controller application.

ZigBee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for high-level communication protocols.

Key benefits of using ZigBee over other protocol specifications:

  • Low energy consumption
  • Small size
  • Very low cost (below $5)
  • Reliable and protected network
  • Self-organizing and self-reset
  • Work range exceeds 10 meters
  • Transmits data in unlicensed frequency bands

ZigBee Stack Architecture

zigbee architecture

ZigBee Application Layer is implemented via ZigBee Cluster Library (ZCL) where a cluster is a mix of descriptions for a standard ZigBee device, its attributes and queries / commands.

ZigBee Application Profile Layer defines its use cases and enables interoperability of devices produced by different manufacturers.

ZigBee profiles:

  • Smart energy
  • Home automation
  • Personal home and hospital care (PHHC)

ZigBee network includes three types of devices:

  • ZigBee coordinator
  • Routers
  • End devices

ZigBee coordinator functions:

  • Launch and manage networks
  • Form a network
  • Act as a control hub
  • Set parameters while devices are connecting to the network
  • Manage security keys

ZigBee router functions:

  • Transmit packages
  • Enable dynamic routing
  • Reset routes at network congestion
  • Ensure permanent receiver mode
  • Mains supply
  • Can serve up to 32 sleeping devices

ZigBee end device:

  • Can receive and send packages, but can't transmit or route them
  • Can be set to a sleeping mode to save battery life (up to 3 weeks)
  • Works with sensors, local controllers and actuation mechanisms

ZigBee networks topology

network topology zigbee

ZigBee flaws

  • Low data transmission speed (around 30 kb/sec)
  • Several application level standards (4 specs and over 10 standards), which leads to interoperability issues

Check out how we used ZigBee for building a custom IoT solution for our client!

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IT Storyteller and Copywriter
Andrew's current undertaking is big data analytics and AI as well as digital design and branding. He is a contributor to various publications with the focus on emerging technology and digital marketing.