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ZigBee Buzzes on Standard

The ZigBee Alliance has fired a warning shot to vendors guilty of creating "market confusion" in their launch of pre-standard products.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) last year finished work on standardizing the physical layer and media-access control for the low-power wireless data technology (otherwise known as 802.15.4), but the ZigBee Alliance is still working on the software stack and upper layers. Official ratification is expected in this year's fourth quarter (see ZigBee Ready to Buzz?).

Despite the imminent specification release, a number of vendors have launched pre-standard products in an effort to gain an early market lead.

In an email note received by Unstrung, the chair of the Alliance expresses concern over the marketing of such kit.

“The great news is that more and more ZigBee stuff is moving into the market,” writes Bob Heile, chair of the IEEE 802.15 working group on wireless personal area networks at the alliance. “The not so great news is that we are not being consistent in what we are calling it in this pre-release period, which is leading to some market confusion.”

Heile urges vendors not to label the products ZigBee "compliant," a term that suggests the kit is already fully ratified. Instead, the alliance chairman asks vendors to “stick with the term [ZigBee] ready.”

Once officially ratified, ZigBee-enabled devices will be able to transfer data at a few hundred bits per second at a range of around 15 meters to 20 meters. Like Bluetooth and 802.11b, the technology uses a 2.4GHz radio.

The stinging new specification is certainly having a busy week. The latest report from ABI Research modestly hails it as "the next revolution in wireless technology," while ZigBee startup Ember Corp. today announced a whopping $25 million VC cash injection (see ABI Buzzes on ZigBee and Ember Closes $25M for ZigBee).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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