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EnOcean and Zigbee alliances join forces to develop open specifications

Steve Rogerson
December 22, 2015
 
The Zigbee Alliance and energy harvesting group EnOcean Alliance are working together to develop open, global specifications for energy harvesting wireless communications technology that will help meet growing demand for interoperable, self-powered IoT sensors.
 
The specifications will take advantage of both alliances’ expertise and standards-development leadership in energy harvesting device interoperability, and will bring together the EnOcean equipment profiles (EEPs) for sub-GHz networking with the newly ratified Zigbee 3.0 in the worldwide 2.4GHz frequency band.
 
“We are very excited that the EnOcean Alliance is bringing its energy harvesting expertise and widely deployed device profiles into the Zigbee 3.0 ecosystem,” said Tobin Richardson, president and CEO of the Zigbee Alliance. “Our goal with Zigbee 3.0 is to provide a unifying IoT standard that simplifies product development while reducing industry fragmentation and unlocking new market growth opportunities.
 
He said this agreement with the EnOcean Alliance was a first important step down that path.
 
“A jointly developed specification for the Zigbee 3.0 ecosystem will bring the promise of interoperable self-powered IoT solutions to more markets and applications, meeting growing demand for plug-and-play solutions that can deliver seamless, ultra-low-power battery-less communications,” he said.
 
The cooperation aims to connect the two alliances’ advantages, synergies and track record of standards advancements to create an open, global specification that will extend energy harvesting wireless communications to a broader range of self-powered IoT sensors. These use the surrounding environment as their energy source, making battery-less connected devices a reality.
 
“This is a major next step on the way to an interoperable IoT, from two industry-leading organisations combining their expertise and influence to help make this vision a reality,” said Graham Martin, chairman of the EnOcean Alliance. “The globally available 2.4GHz frequency is the key to the consumer market. We look forward to working with the Zigbee Alliance, one of the most experienced organisations in this field, to define the technical specifications for worldwide energy harvesting wireless solutions based on this worldwide standard.’
 
He said this would give members access to new regions and additional fields of applications to grow their business for self-powered innovations.
 
“It perfectly adds to the EnOcean Alliance’s established market of smart buildings in the sub-1GHz frequency, which will continue to be a major focus for us, bringing field-proven and interoperable energy harvesting to new areas of use,” he said. “This is a significant win for the complete wireless community.”
 
This technical cooperation agreement will build on the EnOcean Alliance’s already strong position with more than 1500 interoperable products available for home and commercial building automation, and expand it bringing energy harvesting wireless communications to many more applications in the IoT and consumer arenas. It will also take advantage of the newly ratified Zigbee 3.0 standard, which enables battery-less devices to join networks securely across various energy harvesting applications. As a result, the industry will have opportunities for creating intelligently connected buildings and developing other products. The collaboration is also designed to provide a foundation to bring data to the IoT frameworks of other industry initiatives, to facilitate interoperable communications from the sensor to the cloud.
 
“The Zigbee Alliance’s board of directors and I are pleased to be entering into this relationship with the EnOcean Alliance,” said John Osborne, chairman of the Zigbee Alliance board. “We expect this technology cooperation to deliver significant new benefits and opportunities for our members and their customers as we move closer to true interoperability for the IoT.”
 
A technical task force will be built of Zigbee Alliance and EnOcean Alliance representatives to define the technical specifications required to combine standardised EEPs with Zigbee 3.0, which operates in the worldwide IEEE 802.15.4 2.4GHz standard. The alliances plan to complete definition of this technical specification and share details of associated collaborative marketing and business activities in the second quarter of 2016.
 
Zigbee 3.0 is the first single unified, open and complete wireless IoT product development standard of its kind. It extends all the way from the physical layer to the application network layer, and includes certification and branding for improved interoperability across a growing range of market segments.