ZigBee Does Smart Grid Communication

I remember when ZigBee was first officially announced in San Francisco. I was researching wireless mesh networking and attended the TinyOS workshop, which was hosted by Professor David Culler at UC Berkeley. The workshop was in 2005, and the ZigBee meeting was right after that, so it must have been in 2005 too. At that time, Dr. Culler’s team had their own protocol for mesh networking. Fast-forward to the present, his company, Arch Rock, has adopted ZigBee for their communications protocol.

Arch Rock is not alone. Many leading vendors have embedded a ZigBee chip into their smart meters. Such a vendor, Itron, had a booth at the recent ConnectivityWeek 2010 show.


Itron showed meters with ZigBee chips in them at ConnectivityWeek

At the same conference, Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance, presented that group’s most recent developments.


Bob Heile

I videotaped his talk (40 minutes long) in the following videos.

The current status of ZigBee by Bob Heile-1 

The current status of ZigBee by Bob Heile-2 

The current status of ZigBee by Bob Heile-3 

The current status of ZigBee by Bob Heile-4 

The current status of ZigBee by Bob Heile-5

Heile made several noteworthy points:

The ZigBee Alliance is not a vendor organization but an international nonprofit organization to promote the ZigBee specification (low-power wireless and mesh networking). It consists of 360 companies worldwide.

  • The membership spread is North America 40%, Europe 30%, and Asia 30%.
  • The applicable markets include Consumer Electronics, Energy Management and Efficiency, Health Care, Home Automation, Telecommunication Services, Building Automation, and Industrial Automation.
  • As for smart grid and energy concerns, 40million ZigBee smart meters have been contracted so far and are being installed at a rate of of over 20,000 meters/day.
  • Most notably for me, working at the intersection of IT and energy, is their announcement of ZigBee Green Power, which obtains the necessary energy to fuel a ZigBee-supported device without wires or batteries. One of the concerns, from the capacity and e-waste points of view, about using a wireless sensor is its power source, a battery. ZigBee Green Power appears to solve this problem.
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Energy Impact of Increased Server Inlet Temperature
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 You can find more information in the videos. Later, I sat down with Bob to ask some questions that are usually not found anywhere else. What I learned will appear shortly. 

Zen Kishimoto

About Zen Kishimoto

Seasoned research and technology executive with various functional expertise, including roles in analyst, writer, CTO, VP Engineering, general management, sales, and marketing in diverse high-tech and cleantech industry segments, including software, mobile embedded systems, Web technologies, and networking. Current focus and expertise are in the area of the IT application to energy, such as smart grid, green IT, building/data center energy efficiency, and cloud computing.

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