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ZigBee and Wi-Fi Alliances to Develop Wireless Home Area Networks for Smart Grids

The ZigBee Alliance will collaborate with the Wi-Fi Alliance to develop wireless home area networks (HAN) for use in smart grids.

ZigBee Smart Energy

These alliances would initially concentrate on the state-of-the-art energy management protocol, named ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0. The protocol will be developed for smart grid-based homes that are enabled on the currently booming ZigBee Smart Energy Profile. The ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 is likely to function using Wi-Fi technology.

Opportunities to utilize ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 will be identified by these alliances for leveraging the advantages from their respective technologies. The joint effort will increase the effectiveness of the HAN for managing energy-producing or -consuming devices, a critical part of smart grid initiatives under development. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the U.S. Department of Energy had selected ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 as a preliminary interoperable standard for HAN-based devices.

The integration of ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 and Wi-Fi’s communication technology implies that energy consumers, vendors, and utilities will be provided with more versatility and options in energy management solutions. The alliance will enable the ZigBee and Wi-Fi technologies to be closely integrated in a smart home scenario. Such a scenario will encompass gadgets that range from home entertainment devices, automobiles, and computing systems to thermostats to utility meters.

According to Bob Heile, the chairman of ZigBee Alliance, ZigBee has used Wi-Fi and ZigBee gateways always. Heile has revealed that the alliances has an opportunity for closer collaboration to focus on the future smart home by deriving benefit of the inherent intelligence in ZigBee Smart Energy. Heile has explained that Wi-Fi has achieved success worldwide and is a key wireless networking technology for use in the home scenario. Heile has revealed that the collaborative effort will result in further increase in smart grid innovation solutions.

Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa has said that the joint effort will result in more benefits than merely expanding the smart energy profile of ZigBee to Wi-Fi. Figueroa has clarified that the joint effort will facilitate the emergence of a vision relating to an ideally interconnected smart home. This agreement will enable representatives from these alliances to complement activities of each other to speedily develop proposed solutions.

Initially ZigBee Smart Energy was developed to function on a standard ZigBee wireless network for supporting the needs of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Smart Metering. ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 was designed to support various network technologies for the digital home, including Wi-Fi and HomePlug. The optimized low-power ZigBee standard caters to the requirement of wireless sensor networks through self-healing networking, superlative battery life, robust self-organization, very low complexity and cost, and scalability to very big networks.

Currently Wi-Fi technology is implemented in many businesses and households worldwide.  Consumers have also shown strong support for Wi-Fi technology incorporated in handsets, home entertainment systems, and computing devices. During 2009, 580 million Wi-Fi gadgets were shipped, according to the ABI Research.

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