All posts tagged: zigbee

The latest version of the popular ZigBee wireless mesh networking standard, ZigBee 3.0, is an attempt to combine the various different components and device profiles within the ZigBee standard into a single, unified specification.

This new ZigBee 3.0 standard aims to provide seamless interoperability across the greatest possible selection of smart Internet-of-Things devices employing ZigBee wireless connectivity – giving consumers and business users access to ZigBee-enabled products and services that will work together seamlessly to meet their needs.

It delivers all the familiar capabilities you expect from ZigBee, while unifying most of the different ZigBee application profiles which are presently in use, such as ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Light Link, into a single platform.

ZigBee 3.0 defines more than 130 different specific devices and a wide range of device types, including home automation, lighting, energy management, smart appliances, security, sensors, and healthcare monitoring devices. All the device types, profiles, commands and functionality that are currently defined in the ZigBee PRO standard (which ZigBee 3.0 is based on) are available in ZigBee 3.0.

The initial release of ZigBee 3.0 unifies together the ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Light Link, ZigBee Building Automation, ZigBee Retail Services, ZigBee Health Care and ZigBee Telecommunications Services application profiles into the single ZigBee 3.0 specification.

All the application-level functionality of the ZigBee Smart Energy profile is already included in ZigBee 3.0. However, ZigBee Smart Energy includes advanced security features such as elliptic curve cryptography, specifically implemented for use by electricity utilities to enable high levels of security in smart grid applications.

For this reason, the ZigBee Smart Energy application profile is not unified into ZigBee 3.0 at this time. However, the ZigBee Alliance is working to integrate this level of security as an optional feature of ZigBee 3.0, across all application types, and this will allow merging the Smart Energy profile into the ZigBee 3.0 standard.

ZigBee 3.0 builds on the existing ZigBee standard but unifies the market-specific ZigBee application profiles to allow all devices to be wirelessly connected to the same network, irrespective of their market designation and function. The unification of these profiles means that a wide variety of smart devices that previously have used any one of those profiles can now interoperate seamlessly with any other ZigBee device – with the potential to lead to new, innovative IoT applications and solutions.

Home automation and Internet-of-Things products presently on the market have typically targeted a single application area, such as smart lighting using the ZigBee Light Link profile, for example. But as the number of smart, connected IoT devices grows, a typical home or office may obtain more connected devices, and different types of connected devices. But using current ZigBee application profiles, different types of devices cannot always communicate with each other.

A ZigBee Light Link device cannot directly communicate with a ZigBee Home Automation device, and as the number of devices being deployed grows – this just doesn’t make sense in terms of building useful IoT experiences that make sense for consumers.

In the past, there have been separate components to the ZigBee standard because the ZigBee Alliance has focused on optimising their standards for individual markets based on limitations of hardware, such as processor speed and memory size, and the particular requirements of individual markets. Improvements in hardware, like high-performance, low-cost systems-on-chip, combined with the increasing desire to connect a wider variety of devices across market sectors, led the ZigBee Alliance to create the ZigBee 3.0 specification.

The ZigBee Certified program is another crucial part of the ZigBee Alliance’s standards development process. The program allows manufacturers to deliver a variety of products to all kinds of customers with applications that can benefit from ZigBee connectivity, and customers can have confidence in products that “just work”.

The ZigBee Certified process ensures that products built using ZigBee 3.0 function as expected and products from different manufacturers are all able to interoperate with each other. For example, existing ZigBee Certified products based on the ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 or ZigBee Light Link 1.0 profiles are already certified as being interoperable with ZigBee 3.0.

If you’re currently developing a product based on ZigBee Home Automation or ZigBee Light Link, your product will be forward compatible with ZigBee 3.0, so there’s no need to delay your product development while the ZigBee 3.0 specification matures. Your product can still be ZigBee Certified using the older specifications, and this means you’re fully ZigBee 3.0 ready.

Devices that use ZigBee application profiles other than these may need to have a firmware update for compatibility with ZigBee 3.0. The IEEE 802.15.4 standard that defines the physical layer and MAC layer of the network stack remains unchanged in ZigBee 3.0, since ZigBee only defines the higher layers of the network. This means that the radio hardware in your device does not need to be changed or upgraded to move up to ZigBee 3.0 compatibility.

Zigbee v3

Vendors that have existing products on the market that employ ZigBee profiles such as ZigBee Home Automation are able to continue to release products using these separate application profiles, but the ZigBee Alliance believes most manufacturers will choose to move towards ZigBee 3.0 and the interoperability benefits that it offers.

Here at the LX Group we have end-to-end experience and demonstrated results in the entire process of IoT product development, and we’re ready to help bring your existing or new product ideas to life. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, telephone 1800 810 124, or just keep in the loop by connecting here.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in IoT embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisZigbee version 3.0 – a new foundation for the Internet of Things

The exponential increase of chipsets aimed at the Internet-of-Things market has offers a huge variety of new IP-based products to choose from, which may cause the appearance that older standards such as ZigBee are waning in popularity. However, nothing could be further from the truth, and one example is the new Kinetis KW2x microcontroller family from Freescale Semiconductor.

The Kinetis KW2x is a series of wireless system-on-chip devices aimed at meeting the increased processing and memory requirements associated with applications that use advanced 802.15.4/ZigBee stacks and communications standards in modern Internet-of-Things applications, such as ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 and the ZigBee Internet Protocol specification, today and into the future.

These devices integrate a 50 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor with an 802.15.4-compliant 2.4 GHz RF transceiver on a single chip, providing a low-power, compact, single-chip integrated solution for 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless mesh network applications in home automation, healthcare, smart energy and consumer electronics.

The KW2x family expands on the successful Kinetis microcontroller portfolio based on the ARM Cortex-M4 core, with the software protocol stacks, development tools and IDE all compatible with the existing family of Kinetis MCUs and the ZigBee protocol seamlessly integrated into Kinetis software development tools – allowing you to rapidly get started programming and creating wireless mesh networks for your embedded and IoT applications.

Specifications are rich, as the Kinetis KW2x family integrates a class-leading 2.4 GHz RF transceiver, a Cortex-M4 core and a robust feature set for a powerful, secure and low-power IEEE 802.15.4 wireless solution all integrated on a single die.

These wireless MCUs offer up to 512 KB of flash, 64 KB of RAM and up to 64 KB of FlexMemory. Dual PAN support allows this platform to simultaneously participate in two ZigBee networks, making it useful in complex ZigBee installations or in router or gateway applications.

The KW2x family supports the ZigBee IP network stack, the RF4CE standard, and the ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Smart Energy 1.x and ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 ZigBee application profiles, enabling a broad range of applications.

Along with reducing product size and reducing bill-of-materials cost with a highly integrated solution – the KW2x product line offers strong power efficiency and long battery life in portable, battery-powered Internet of Things applications.

The radio subsystem supports the 2.4 GHz ISM band as well as the 2.36-2.4 GHz MBAN (medical body-area network) band, and offers high power efficiency for its transmit power, along with fast antenna diversity, transmit power up to +8 dBm and a receiver sensitivity of -102 dBm, offering very long communication range. The microcontroller provides enough memory to run complicated protocol stacks on a single IC while also providing plenty of space for user application code.

According to Freescale, this family of devices provides greater processing performance and larger flash and RAM options compared to other similar devices on the market, helping smart IoT appliances and consumer automation products avoid obsolescence as 802.15.4/ZigBee specifications evolve, with the ability to meet future standards and new ZigBee application profiles via firmware updates on the same hardware.

The Kinetis KW2x wireless MCU family provides plenty of Flash and RAM, allowing engineers to quickly upgrade products with new features, including over-the-air remote firmware updates, without the need for costly and relatively difficult replacements of the hardware in users’ homes and other installations.

For applications that require more flexibility, the KW2x platform optionally provides 64 kB of “FlexMemory”, that allows users to configure part of the on-chip flash memory as additional flash memory or enhanced EEPROM. This means users can choose how that memory is allocated between program and data storage, for example if extra EEPROM space is desired for storing configuration data.

The KW2x family offers reduced power consumption and an increased RF link budget, along with antenna diversity which improves reliability of the radio link, particularly in environments where multi-path interference is a problem.

The IEEE 802.15.4 2.4GHz transceiver is designed to reduce transmission power where appropriate, and run in a low-power mode when commanded, helping to achieve strong power efficiency. These devices include hardware assisted dual personal area network support, which means that a single device can communicate wirelessly on two different ZigBee networks, simultaneously using two different PAN IDs.

This makes these chipsets attractive for gateway or router applications in home or building automation networks, connecting together different smart energy or home automation networks without the need for multiple radios.

Freescale Kinetis KW2 2

Security has not been forgotten – as Freescale have integrated advanced security features usually found in higher-end processors, providing security and cryptographic functions including key generation, secure memory and tamper detect functionality.

Secure Flash protects the code and data from unauthorised access or modification, while tamper detection can identify events and asynchronously erase secure RAM, generating an interrupt so the application firmware can take additional actions, including a system reset.

A dedicated cryptographic acceleration unit supports a set of specialised operations to improve the throughput of encryption and decryption operations as well as message digest functions. These features address the growing attention and the need for strong security in embedded SCADA and automation systems as well as connected Internet-of-Things consumer products in the home.

As leaders in Zigbee-based product development, we’re ready to work together with you to develop new product designs, or reviewing and upgrade any existing versions with you for your success. Getting started is easy – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisFast and secure Zigbee-based hardware with the new Freescale Kinetis KW2x

The new ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 (SEP2.0) ZigBee Application Profile brings with it powerful new ZigBee capabilities for smart energy metering and control networks. With its ability to transport rate, demand, and load management messages to and from networks of smart energy appliances and the “Smart Grid” across a wide variety of wired and wireless media, the profile promises to be a key element of residential energy management systems.

Capable of passing energy-related messages across a HAN, or Home Area Network, using numerous different types of wired or wireless physical media, SEP2.0 is aimed at enabling the next generation of interactive smart appliances, HVAC, lighting and energy management systems – a “Smart Grid” of energy-efficient technology.

An IP-based HAN enabled by ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 makes it possible to manage every aspect of the energy consumption and production of a home or building, whilst moving the information around a network built entirely around the Internet Protocol and interconnected with existing networks and the Internet.

The ZigBee Smart Energy 1.0/1.1 Profile was originally developed to allow 802.15.4/ZigBee low-power wireless mesh networks to support communication between smart meters and products that monitor, control and automate the delivery and consumption of electricity – and potentially other household utilities such as gas and water, moving into the future.

The functionality of the Smart Energy 1.x Profile was primarily intended to support the functional requirements of smart meters being used by electricity, gas and water utilities to manage their distribution networks, automate their billing processes, and communicate with customers’ energy management systems.

ZigBee-enabled smart meters act as communications gateways between the utility and the consumer, enabling the exchange of messages about pricing, demand response and peak load management. At least this technical capacity exists in theory, but electricity retailers will only bother with it if they have a revenue model in implementing such technology.

The ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 Profile was created in response to the need for a single protocol to communicate with the growing universe of energy-aware devices and systems that are becoming common in homes and commercial buildings. For that reason, a diverse range of Function Sets were defined under SEP2.0, including Demand Response and Load Control, Metering, Billing, Pre-Payment, Directed Messaging, Public Messaging, Price Information, Distributed Energy Resource Management and Plug-in Electric Vehicle Management.

One or more of these Function Sets can be used to implement one of the Device Types defined in SEP2.0, such as Meters, Smart Appliances, Load Controllers, Smart Thermostats, In-Premises Displays, Inverters and Plug-in Electric Vehicles to name just a few.

ZigBee Smart Energy 1.x access the MAC/PHY layers of the 802.15.4 radio hardware via the ZigBee Pro protocol stack, but SEP2.0 replaces the ZigBee Pro protocol stack with the ZigBee IP stack, which uses the 6LoWPAN protocol to encapsulate the proprietary ZigBee packet structure within a compressed IPv6 packet. At the transport layer, IP packets bearing messages containing standard ZigBee command and data packets are exchanged using the familiar HTTP and TCP protocols.

When used in combination with the SEP2.0 Application Profile, the ZigBee IP stack provides a media-independent interface between the network and MAC layers of the stack that allows SEP2.0 packets to be carried across nearly any IP-based network.

A recent version of SEP2.0 includes support for communication across ZigBee and 802.11 wireless LANs as well as powerline communication (PLC) networks. SEP2.0 will also have improved future support for 802.15.4g, where the physical layer of the ZigBee/802.15.4 network is a sub-gigahertz radio at, say, 900 MHz for long-range outdoor telemetry or environments where the 2.4 GHz spectrum is congested. Support is also improving for other popular network technologies such as Ethernet.

Amongst the first SEP2.0 enabled products to hit the market will be Energy Service Portals (ESPs) which serve as a bridge between an energy utility’s communication infrastructure and the IP-based Home Area Network. These portals are provided to consumers by utility companies, and use the SEP2.0 Energy Services Interface profile to provide a bridge between the SEP1.x protocol used by most existing smart meters and the home’s IP-based network.

Zigbee Smart Energy

A ZigBee-enabled home energy management system can employ multiple Application Profiles to provide unified control of all home energy systems. For example, a smart home energy management system may use the Smart Energy (SE) profile to pass the utility’s load management and demand response messages to the home’s major loads and energy sources.

The Home Automation (HA) and RF for Consumer Electronics (RF4CE) profiles may then be used to communicate with Smart Appliances, lighting systems and other consumer-controlled products. Energy-aware homes will also employ a large number of end-point applications such as smart thermostats, in-home energy displays (IHDs), and tablet-based control panels that use SEP2.0-enabled ZigBee or Wi-Fi radio links to communicate with the home’s ESI and other elements of its energy management system.

SEP2.0-equipped network endpoints may also be implemented with the physical layer of the network using power line communications, networking smart appliances without RF spectrum congestion.

The ZigBee Alliance has created well-defined provisions for interoperability with, and upgrade paths from, the earlier SEP1.x standard to SEP2.0, which is good news for engineers looking to upgrade or to interoperate with existing SEP1.x technology. There is no significant increase in the processing power required in your hardware, although the key generation and exchange functions in the SEP2.0 security layer may be tough for 8-bit microcontrollers to handle unless they have security acceleration capability, handling the cryptographic maths in dedicated hardware.

Unfortunately, in terms of memory, SEP2.0 and the applications it supports require significant increases in both flash and RAM over what is required for most SEP1.x applications. Storing the code for a SEP1.x stack, a small application profile and a simple user application requires roughly 160 kb of flash in a typical microcontroller, plus 10-12 kb of RAM. Implementing comparable functionality under SEP2.0 requires about 256 kb of flash and 24-32 kb of RAM.

As an example of an existing hardware reference solution targeting SEP2.0, Texas Instruments provides an example consisting of the CC2533 802.15.4 RF system-on-chip, which runs the MAC/PHY layers of the SEP2.0 stack on its built-in 8051 core, combined with one of TI’s ARM7 Stellaris 9000-series microcontrollers as the application processor, running the remainder of the network stack and the application code.

Most of the microcontrollers in this powerful family include a fully-integrated Ethernet MAC, CAN interface, USB host controller, and enough memory and processing power to implement many simple SEP2.0 applications.

It is also worth considering some of the highly integrated single-chip solutions on the market such as the Texas Instruments CC2538, which integrates a 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 radio, ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit microcontroller core, hardware security acceleration for SEP2.0 and plenty of flash and RAM to support the ZigBee IP stack, SEP2.0 profile and application code with support for over-the-air firmware flashing capability for updates in the field, all in a single chip.

As you have just read, the new profile offers a great amount of promise in terms of functionality and convenience for the end user. Here at the LX Group our engineers have an excellent understanding of the Zigbee platform and have put this to use to create various systems for a wide range of customers – and we can do this for you too.

To get started, join us for a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisThe new Zigbee Smart Energy 2.0 Application Profile

Home automation is an emerging field with great potential, however without the appropriate standardisation of devices it can become a minefield of incompatibilities and frustrated customers. However there’s a standard we’re excited about – Zigbee Home Automation – that is quite promising.

ZigBee Home Automation is an application profile for Networked devices for home automation use – a global standard helping to create smarter homes that enhance comfort, convenience, security and energy management in the home environment. This standard for ZigBee wireless mesh-networked home automation applications can help make every home a smarter, safer and more energy efficient environment for consumers and families.

The standard gives your customers a way to gain greater control of the functionality of their home. By offering a global standard for interoperable products you it enables the secure and reliable monitoring and control of technologies in the home environment with robust, energy-efficient and easy to install wireless networks. Almost anything can be connected, such as appliances, home entertainment, environmental control and sensing, HVAC and security systems – providing convenience and energy efficiency benefits to the resident.

Smarter homes allow consumers to save money, be more environmentally aware, feel more secure and enjoy a variety of conveniences that make homes easier and less expensive to maintain. ZigBee Home Automation supports the needs of a diverse global ecosystem of stakeholders including home owners or tenants, product manufacturers, designers and architects, offering a standard that provides a reliable, consistent way to wirelessly monitor, control and automate household appliances and technologies to create innovative, functional and liveable home environments.

Typical application areas for ZigBee Home Automation can include smart lighting, access control, temperature and environmental sensing and control, intruder detection, smoke or fire detection, automated occupancy sensing and automated lighting or appliance control. The use of wireless radio networks eliminates the cost and effort of cable installation throughout the home, whilst the ZigBee standard provides certified interoperability and global 2.4 GHz ISM spectrum allocation, allowing manufacturers to take their ZigBee-based solutions to the global market relatively easily with relatively simple installation and operation.

Devices will have a typical RF range of up to 70 meters indoors or 400 meters outdoors, offering a flexibility to cover homes of all sizes. As with all ZigBee solutions, ZigBee Home Automation systems are built on top of an open and freely available specification based on international standards and represent a highly scalable solution with the ability to potentially network thousands of devices.


The devices are easy to install, even allowing for do-it-yourself installation in most cases. Employing wireless radio networks as well as battery power in many cases means that ZigBee Home Automation devices require little or no cable installation, making them ideal for easy retrofitting to existing homes and buildings as well as remodelling and new construction. Self-organising networks with easy device discovery simplify the setup and maintenance of networks consisting of many nodes, and the proven interference avoidance mechanisms in ZigBee networks ensure worry-free operation even in environments where coexistence with other 2.4 GHz radios such as 802.11 WiFi and Bluetooth is required.

The ZigBee Home Automation standard is designed for full coexistence with 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.11 wireless LANs and Bluetooth, as with all ZigBee technologies. Thus all devices based on these standards are designed to operate effectively in the same environment as WiFi networks, employing proven interference avoidance techniques such as channel agility.

Internet connectivity to the ZigBee network allows ZigBee Home Automation devices to be controlled via the Internet from anywhere in the world, as well as allowing WiFi-connected smartphones to be used as compact, powerful control and user-interface appliances to control the network of ZigBee appliances around the home.

Furthermore the standard is secure – employing AES128 encryption and device authentication to secure personal information, prevent unauthorised control of or access to the network, and to prevent interference or unauthorised access between independent neighbouring networks.

ZigBee Home Automation devices can be used to monitor household energy use, and to turn on and off devices remotely. Since ZigBee Home Automation is a ZigBee standard, ZigBee Home Automation devices will interoperate effortlessly with other products already in consumers’ homes using other ZigBee application profiles, such as ZigBee Light Link, ZigBee Remote Control, ZigBee Smart Energy or ZigBee Building Automation.

Finally – the standard is interoperable – integrating control and monitoring devices for lighting, security, home access and home appliances, allowing the customer to select from a variety of different products to meet her needs. All ZigBee-certified products are interoperable with each other and with other ZigBee networks, regardless of their manufacturer. All certified ZigBee devices, including but not limited to ZigBee Home Automation devices, from different vendors all use the same standards and are tested and certified to be fully interoperable with each other, allowing the consumer to purchase new devices with confidence.

With our existing experience in producing a wide range of devices incorporating Zigbee-based wireless technology our engineers can take your ideas for home automation to the final product stage.

We can create or tailor just about anything from a wireless temperature sensor to a complete Internet-enabled system for you – within your required time-frame and your budget. For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.

Muhammad AwaisLX Group examines Zigbee Home Automation

The wireless lighting control market has seen a shift in recent years away from bespoke or proprietary lighting solutions, as efficient and low cost solutions have been introduced to the general market based around standards that you may already by familiar with – such as ZigBee – which provide opportunities for greater system standardisation and interoperability.

Whilst consumers increasingly recognise the value of the convenience, flexibility, and comfort that wireless, embedded “Internet-of-Things” devices bring to the home or office, a barrier to widespread adoption of these kinds of home automation systems in the past has been that traditionally, most product manufacturers have not provided a system that allows interoperability among different lighting and home automation vendors.

ZigBee Light Link was created to save time, money and installation labour by standardising simple, easy to install networks of intelligent lighting as well as control devices such as light switches, occupancy sensors, daylight sensors and Wi-Fi connected network gateways which allow the ZigBee Light Link network to be controlled by the consumer from a PC, tablet or smartphone.


As one of many ZigBee application profiles, ZigBee Light Link is a ZigBee application profile aimed at intelligent, wireless control of household lighting. It provides the lighting industry with a global standard for interoperable “smart” consumer lighting and control products that are easy to use, and it allows consumers to achieve wireless control over all their LED fixtures, light bulbs, timers, remotes and switches from their smartphone, PC or tablet. Products using the ZigBee Light Link standard allow consumers to configure their lighting remotely to reflect ambience, task or season, whilst at the same time improving energy efficiency.

The ZigBee Light Link 1.0 application profile is currently published, whilst the ZigBee Light Link 1.1 application profile specification is presently under development. Leading home lighting solution manufacturers who have contributed to the development of the ZigBee Light Link standard include GE, Greenwave, OSRAM Sylvania and Philips.

Products employing the ZigBee Light Link standard, and earning the ZigBee Certified seal, are known to the consumer to be interoperable and as easy to use as a common dimmer switch. Adding or removing devices from the lighting network is quick and easy, making it easy and intuitive for consumers to use every day. Since ZigBee Light Link is a ZigBee standard, ZigBee Light Link-based smart lighting solutions will interoperate effortlessly with consumers’ other devices employing ZigBee standards such as ZigBee Home Automation, ZigBee Input Device and ZigBee Remote Control.

A ZigBee Light Link network is a secure mesh network which allows communication to be safely relayed by multiple individual network nodes, i.e. control devices and lamps. A single light or group of lights can have the user’s favourite lighting state stored in memory and recalled immediately – even for a whole house worth of lights, at the press of a button.

Additional nodes can easily be added to or removed from the network without affecting system functionality or integrity. Adding or removing lamps is very easy and robust. Contrary to other networking solutions, it does not matter which lamp is installed first, or whether other lamps in the network are switched on or off. With ZigBee Light Link, adding a new lamp at a remote location is as easy as adding a new lamp within RF range.

Smartphones, tablets and PCs can control lighting products based on ZigBee Light Link via a ZigBee network gateway connected to ethernet or a Wi-Fi network. Such a connection also allows the ZigBee Light Link network to be controlled via the Internet, via web applications or mobile smartphone apps, for example.


Devices such as ZigBee-networked wireless wall switches and remote controls may also be used to control the lighting network. Functionality such as automatic timer control, “alarm clock” use, or “vacation mode” security use can also be defined in software and configured by the user with a simple software interface on the PC or mobile device.

The ZigBee Light Link profile can be used with ZigBee transceivers and ZigBee-ready system-on-chip microcontrollers from several semiconductor manufacturers – for example, the CC2531 or CC2538 IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee System-on-Chip solutions from Texas Instruments.

 Texas Instruments offers the Z-Stack Lighting Software for the CC2530 ZigBee-enabled RF system-on-chip, which is an implementation of ZigBee Light Link and comes with a sample demonstration program for both a wireless “smart light” and “smart switch”, allowing engineers to easily get started in the development of an easy to use lighting control solution based around ZigBee Light Link.

The Z-Stack Lighting development kit from Texas Instruments consists of two “Z-Light” reference design RGB LED lamps based around the CC2531 chip programmed as ZigBee Light Link Colour Lights and a CC2531-based USB gateway dongle programmed as a ZigBee Light Link Colour Scene Remote, which can be operated independently as a remote control with on-board buttons or used as a gateway to interface the lighting network to PC software, for software-based advanced control and functionality.

This development kit contains everything needed to set up a basic ZigBee Light Link network and control the lamps either individually or in groups using either buttons on the controller node or software on the PC. TI’s website contains tools and application examples for free download that can be used to experiment with more advanced features of the ZigBee Light Link lighting control protocol and to develop demonstrators for direct wireless control or control from cloud-based or web services. Schematics and documentation for these hardware reference designs are also fully provided for free download from TI.

Thus the information and hardware is available for you to integrate products into this new standard of wireless lighting control, and if this technology interests your organisation but don’t have the expertise in – or just need to have it taken care of by a team of experts – and you’re not sure how to progress with a reliable implementation, we can partner with you to take care of this either in revisions of existing products or as part of new designs.

With our experience in retail and commercial products we have the ability to target your product’s design to the required end-user market and all the steps required to make it happen.

We can create or tailor just about anything from a wireless temperature sensor to a complete Internet-enabled system for you – within your required time-frame and your budget. For more information or a confidential discussion about your ideas and how we can help bring them to life – click here to contact us, or telephone 1800 810 124.

LX is an award-winning electronics design company based in Sydney, Australia. LX services include full turnkey design, electronics, hardware, software and firmware design. LX specialises in embedded systems and wireless technologies design.

Published by LX Pty Ltd for itself and the LX Group of companies, including LX Design House, LX Solutions and LX Consulting, LX Innovations.


Muhammad AwaisLX Group examines the Zigbee Light Link system


The statement “we’re on the brink of a revolution” typically induces an eye rolling response. The phrase has been bandied around by just about every marketing company which, frankly, makes it sound boring. Furthermore, if anything genuinely ‘revolutionary’ was imminent for humanity, surely we’d know all about it? Well, not necessarily, and for those unaware: we really are on the brink of a revolution.


This particular revolution comes in the form of a very tangible technological transition referred to as ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT). The phrase was coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a tech guru hailing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). ‘Things’ in this instance refers to day-to-day material objects and devices which historically have not been connected to the Internet. But we are now entering an age where everything is connected via the Internet, rather than just the varying types of computers that we are used to. This is the IoT revolution, and in this article we’re going to take a look at the ramifications therein.



How Does It Work?

Wirelessly’ is the short answer to that question. Wireless technology is advancing and being adopted at an incredible pace, and organisations such as ABI Research estimate over 5 billion wireless chips will ship in 2013. In addition to the kind of wireless chips which might be used for WiFi connection, other technologies are also on the rise including radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, improved Bluetooth, ZigBee, and plenty more besides.

With this relatively inexpensive method of information transfer in place, the next element of the Internet of Things is sensors. If everything from temperature readings, to the contents of your stomach (more on this later), to geolocation of just-about-anything, to pollution levels, can be measured and reported on, the potential is genuinely limitless.


Is It Too Early to Start Getting Excited?

It’s easy to see many products incorporating aspects of this technology even today. One better-known example would be the Nike+ System which records and monitors your workout data with sensors installed in trainers. Earlier this year, President and COO of KORE Telematics, Alex Brisbourne had an article published in Forbes also pointing out that the Internet of Things isn’t such a new concept when you consider that telemetry systems such as those used in black box airplane recorders, and homing devices, have been around for a long time.

However, many respectable organisations and forecasters believe 2013 will be the year of IoT, and MIT is counted among them. For example, while the Google Glass reality augmentation headset is being met with considerable scepticism, a story in the Washington Post suggests that the product could offer an ideal method to control, manage and interact with various IoT objects with the necessary wireless communication hardware installed.


A Day in the Life of the Internet of Things

Whether your interest in the IoT stems from a business profit perspective or more of a geeky tech enthusiast angle, the ramifications are as significant as they are exciting. A simple example might be if you had an early flight to catch, let’s say you’re taking a two-week holiday. Your smart phone would communicate with the airport timetable and be aware of any changes to the flight times, and this information would be shared with your local IoT. You would be automatically woken up in good time to make the airport, and your electronic appliances that had automatically activated early would switch to energy-saving holiday mode once they detected that you had left the house. Your vehicle navigation would determine the best route to take based on real time information from traffic and weather sensors, and would guide you to the closest or lowest cost vacant parking space when you reached the airport. While on holiday similar interactions with your accommodation environment would ensure a comfortable, effortless and energy efficient experience. Then on your return the process would reverse, your household appliances would be informed of your schedule and activate in advance so you returned to a warm and organised house.


Examples Pending Release

Naturally, as this revolution has been unfolding, so has a race between commercial technology companies. Some great examples include


  • A digestible sensor which stays in your stomach and communicates optimal timings for consumption of prescribed medicines – Source
  • A baby monitoring garment to make sure we know what’s going on with our toddlers when we’re not around – Source
  • Significantly improved energy efficiency (the world over) – Source
  • Monitoring the successful growth of plants, both commercially and domestically – Source
  • Finding parking spaces in heavily congested cities more easily – Source


It’s an exciting time and IoT technology may genuinely revolutionise humanity. Ideally, it will greatly support reductions in energy consumption and consequently global warming, plus it has the potential to increase human productivity and quality of life in hundreds of ways that we haven’t even thought of yet.

Muhammad AwaisShould You Be Excited About the ‘Internet of Things’?