ZigBee is an open standard based on the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless-data specification, as is Thread. It is one of the most popular wireless standards for the home. Device makers include GE Appliances and Lighting, LG, Logitech, Philips and Samsung. Products include the Philips Hue smart light bulb, the Logitech Harmony Ultimate home-control hub, motion detectors from Bosch and Indesit washing machines.
The technology supports battery-powered devices, some of which can operate up to seven years on one set of batteries, and devices that don’t have batteries, such as light switches.
Much like Z-Wave, it’s seen significant growth in the past few years, and can be found in a relatively large number of devices. It also consumes a very small amount of power, and uses a mesh network structure to offer excellent range and speedy communication between devices. Because the two protocols communicate differently, ZigBee and Z-Wave devices are often incompatible. However, many smart-home hubs support both protocols.
ZigBee is faster that Z-Wave, and generally cheaper to implement for device makers. However, it has a range of only 10 meters (35 feet) whereas Z-Wave can reach 30 meters (100 feet).
The ZigBee Alliance is a group of companies that maintain and publish the protocol’s standard. The specification was conceived in 1998, standardised in 2003, and revised in 2006.
Interesting fact: Its name refers to the ‘waggle dance’ of honey bees after their return to the beehive.