ZigBee is the next big thing to hit the market.  There are many companies that are utilizing the performance that the ZigBee technology holds, performance issues related to the frequency range and the low power battery usage.  These companies like Arcom, Chipcon, Free scale, CompX, and Ember have already invested millions of dollars into ZigBee chips.  Unfortunately, ZigBee, which has most of its chip applications in home usage, does not hit the market big until 2006.  As of right now, ZigBee could be said to be between the market and the lab.  A few products are out there, as are "ZigBee-ready" products, but development is still taking place. Two companies on the cutting edge of the ZigBee market include Chipcon and Arcom.  Chipcon is using ZigBee to produce a road map product that reduces the chip and system costs and increases integration level with low power consumption.  Chipcon's ZigBee SoC’s will include an IEEE 802.15.4 compliant RE transceiver; a low power, yet high performance, microcontroller; flash program memory and RAM and a powerful peripheral module.  ROM based versions can be provided for very high volume applications.  Arcom has joined the ZigBee Alliance to produce ZigBee-ready radio products using Chipcon's industry leading CS2420 device for low power network applications.  Arcom has many years of experience producing network gateway devices which link legacy and proprietary devices to standard LAN, W-LAN, and cellular networks.  The list [19] below gives links to several other companies that are currently selling and developing ZigBee-based products.     

Helicomm (802.15.4/ZigBee) - The "IP-Link" modules are battery-powered transceivers operating at 916 MHz and 2.4 GHz. The network consists of endpoints, optional routers, and a PC gateway. The endpoint boards measure 1.4×0.9×0.4 inches without case or antenna, but the assembled plastic enclosures are significantly larger

             MaxStream (802.15.4/ZigBee) - The "XBee" products are 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz "wireless modems" with a serial UART interface. Operation seems to be peer-to-peer and mesh topologies are listed as "coming soon".

            Luxoft Labs (804.15.4/ZigBee) - MeshNetics(tm) is a Chipcon-based 2.4 GHz transceiver measuring 50 x 50 mm, and running a modified TinyOS firmware enhanced to support ZigBee. The devices are powered by dual AAA batteries and support RS-232F, ISP JTAG, and SPI/l2C interfaces.

 Crossbow Technology (802.15.4/ZigBee and nonstandard protocols) - Crossbow's MICA2, MICA2DOT, MICAz, and MCS Cricket radios are OEM modules compatible with a wide variety of Crossbow sensor modules (using the Atmel CPU). MICAz is the 2.4 GHz ZigBee radio (with Chipcon chipset). The Crossbows radios are relatively large, except for the MICA2DOT which is extremely small. The non-ZigBee versions use the open-source TinyOS stack, and support other frequencies such as 313.9-316.1 MHz, 433.1-434.8 MHz, 868-870 MHz, and 902-928 MHz.

             Innovative Wireless Technologies (802.15.4 and/or ZigBee) - The AXON(tm) transceiver modules utilize Chipcon radios and are available in 2.4 GHz, 915 MHz, and 868 MHz frequency bands. IWT also sells a nonstandard Synaptrix(tm) protocol stack that can be used with the same hardware.

Right now, ZigBee development kits run between $100-$300 dollars, depending on the size of the kit. Individual modules are less expensive, while the price of a ZigBee radio for a network node is estimated to be $6 to the manufacturer once full-scale production takes place.  Sensors are currently being used in environmental and agricultural applications, but the main target - home automation - has yet to be reached.  ZigBee technology is also being used and tested in applications related to health monitoring.

 ZigBee is not alone in the world of home automation and sensor networks.  It faces competition from similar technologies such as Z-Wave, a technology based on the Zensys' Z-Wave open standard. 

This standard focuses on the same areas as ZigBee and may actually control a bigger corner of the market.  However, it lacks a global standard and does not quite have the publicity that ZigBee currently holds.  Another existing automation technology is Insteonby Smart home.  Insteon is very similar to ZigBee and Z-Wave technologies, except that it offers a dual band network, as opposed to the single band networks of the latter two technologies.  Like ZigBee, Insteon has development kits available, while large scale manufacturing is still on the not-to-distant horizon.  Other proprietary mesh protocols based on IEEE 802.15.4 ensure that ZigBee faces, and will continue to face, a competitive market in the world of low rate networking.

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