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ZigBee Mesh used in end-point IoT devices

ZigBee mesh‘s usefulness for IoT is partly due to the fact that it is an open standard. The same products can be used all over the world, which gives customers a large selection of available option. The high competition between products and producers means that the created solutions are innovative, characterized by high quality and give customers a considerable choice. Many suppliers of cooperating elements of this ecosystem mean that they are not limited to any specific brands or specific semiconductor manufacturers.

ZigBee Mesh. Source: ZigBee Alliance
ZigBee Mesh. Source: ZigBee Alliance

Compatibility is also promoted, as ZigBee Mesh 3.0 brings all the various ZigBee environments to a single, unified standard. Over the years, ZigBee has covered applications ranging from industrial to business to home, which has led to the development of separate service standards. ZigBee 3.0 collects all these various applications under one umbrella. This eliminates the need for mediation bridges between different sets of ZigBee supporting devices. All of them will be able to communicate directly, regardless of type.

Competitiveness of ZigBee based solutions

With a maximum data bandwidth of 250 kbps at 2.4 GHz, ZigBee is slower than other popular wireless standards such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but it doesn’t matter in typical sensor applications. ZigBee Mesh is designed to send small data packets at relatively long intervals, which is usually sufficient to collect data from temperature sensors, safety sensors, air quality monitoring systems and similar subsystems. In the meantime, the low bandwidth affects the low power needed for the system to work, so that ZigBee nodes can usually work for many years on a single AAA battery.

ZigBee Power Consumption. Source: ZigBee Alliance
ZigBee Power Consumption. Source: ZigBee Alliance

With low power consumption, ZigBee supporting products typically have a short transmission range – typically from 10 to 15 meters, and the signal they emit is easily disturbed by obstacles on the route, or changes in the environment. However, the beauty of ZigBee devices lies in their work as part of a lattice topology network, where each of them transmits signals between themselves over a total of longer distances. The grid topology also means that damage to a single device will not stop the entire network, as communication can simply be redirected.

Data security via ZigBee wireless technology

ZigBee 3.0 has introduced an advanced set of tools that allows designers to introduce reliable networks with a balanced security policy and ease of installation. Available features will be constantly updated to respond to emerging threats. The security solution used is based on the ZigBee PRO grating protocol, which was originally created for the ZigBee Smart Energy profile. It is currently used by hundreds of millions of media consumption meters around the world, without detecting any security holes.

New features include device-unique authentication, when connecting to the mesh network, updating of keys used during work, secure software update via wireless network and data encryption at the logical layer of the link.

Industrial use of ZigBee Mesh

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting ZigBee Mesh technology is eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE, including ZigBee modem.