Could ZigBee enable the truly universal remote control device?

Could ZigBee enable the truly universal remote control device?

Summary: In case anyone wondered which of the various wireless controls and sensor standards is likely to gain more traction in coming years, consider that the ZigBee Alliance just scored some pretty major support from several of the biggest names in consumer electronics.ZigBee is a green tech protocol that is finding practical applications in the energy management technology marketplace.

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TOPICS: Networking
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In case anyone wondered which of the various wireless controls and sensor standards is likely to gain more traction in coming years, consider that the ZigBee Alliance just scored some pretty major support from several of the biggest names in consumer electronics.

ZigBee is a green tech protocol that is finding practical applications in the energy management technology marketplace. It and other wireless communications technologies are considered critical for building out a seamless smart grid, one that gathers relevant supply and usage information from even the most hostile or remote environments.

ZigBee also promises to be great for gadgets like remote controls, garage door openers, keyless entry systems and the like.

That's why the RF4CE Consortium (which was founded to look into the next generation of wireless beyond the infrared used in lots of consumer gadgets today) and the ZigBee Alliance have just embraced the idea of combining their efforts. The RF4CE group includes Panasonic, Royal Phillips Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony Corp.

Under their agreement, the ZigBee Alliance will include version 1.0 of the RF4CE as part of its sensor and control network solutions. The ZigBee RF4CE specification builds on the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC/PHY radio technology using the 2.4GHz frequency band.

On the consumer electronics side, the new specification will show up in things like HDTVs, home theatre equipment, set-top boxes and so on. The BIG breakthrough is that unlike infrared, the communications will be two-way, which means all manner of new applications can be developed. So, consider that (perhaps) whenever you turn on your home theatre, the lights automatically dim and the blinds are drawn. In effect, the alliance promises to help you bridge all the sensor and control networks for "practical" things with the controls for your lifestyle technology.

Given how quickly technology is bleeding over from the consumer world into the commercial world these days, I would keep an eye on ZigBee's potential role in office building as well.

Topic: Networking

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  • The problem with Zigbee is that it requires a coordinator node, and there c

    can be only one. They should let all router nodes act as distributed coordinators, so that if at least one is working the network can function. Maybe they will fix this in the next version. For the consumer market, you will not want to have one and only one coordinator. There is also the problem of setting encryption keys when first connected to a network, or moved to another one.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Could ZigBee enable the truly universal remote control device?

      @DonnieBoy ZigBee Remote Control does not have coordinator nodes. It has two types: Targets and Controllers.
      alphabetadelta
  • I like zwave, but if they can duplicate the setup, that would great.

    It would be quite useful if i could use one remote to control the lights, security system, tv's, dvd players, media centers, garage door, window treatments, etc...

    Maybe we will finally get a standard for smart homes.
    Been_Done_Before
  • RE: Could ZigBee enable the truly universal remote control device?

    It?s great to see the excitement about the new ZigBee RF4CE specification soon to be released in the market. I am responsible for marketing TI?s solution for this standard, which includes TI?s next generation IEEE 802.15.4 SoC coupled with our upcoming RF4CE-compliant software protocol stack, RemoTI. I guess it goes without saying that we are extremely excited to work with customers interested in applying RF4CE and can confidently say that despite a new simple networking protocol and application profile (known as CERC ? and covering the core remote control command set), RF4CE is entirely built on well tested and mature hardware, as well as diversely deployed mature MAC software. This combination will ensure that products built on RF4CE will get to market fast, and with the RF4CE founders including Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Samsung pushing this technology aggressively, we are anticipating an eco-system built on the ZigBee RF4CE standard to be prevalent in 2010.



    In response to some of the follow-on comments, I?d also like to point out that RF4CE does not depend on a central coordinator, but maintains pairings between remote(s) and consumer electronic device(s) that are simple, can be established ad-hoc and ensure significant flexibility in design. This will allow companies to utilize ZigBee RF4CE for products in lighting control, security and control of various consumer electronics devices ? all adhering to a single standard and focused on a simple, universal standard for remote control-based technology.

    BBlum16