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.