PAN (personal area network)
We’ve all loved the Marvel Comics characters, and made each one of their releases hit, one after the other. The hot favorite these days is – The Iron Man. Everyone loves Tony Stark in that Iron Man suit and the way he controls his lab on a voice commands to JARVIS, his digital personal assistant in his lab. Now that the best example of a Personal Area Network (PAN).
(JARVIS (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) is an artificial intelligence system, which assists Tony Stark in his lab, till Iron Man & Iron Man 2, but in the latest release, it has moved to the outdoor location, controlling the autobot suits, instead of wearable iron man suits in the oil rig climax.)
There are many technologies available for building a PAN, and mostly a PAN is built on wireless, so that one doesn’t get entangled in the cables all around him. Some of the most popular technologies for a PAN are;
Bluetooth – 1989
IrDA – 1993
ZigBee – 2003
INSTEON – 2005
Wireless USB – 2005
Z-Wave – 2005
Body Area Network – 2007
Our focused topic of the day is ZigBee, as its usage has increased multi-folds in the present day scenario of IoT (Internet of Things) that is the most searched term on the internet, as per the last eight month trend study. So let’s start from basics, how does a technology gets recognized and standardized?
The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) makes the specifications and standardizes a technology for global standards, somewhat very similar to what our RDSO (Railways design & Standardization Organization) does for Indian Railways. Now within IEEE, there are various groups for various technologies, from switching to routing to wireless. And the wireless workgroup is called IEEE 802. That is why you see all th wireless standard as IEEE802. Xxx, for example we have IEEE 802.11a for secured 111 Mbps network, IEEE 802.11b for 54 Mbps networks, IEEE 802.11n (draft) for 150 Mbps, 11n for 300 mbps, 11ac for triband gigabit, 11 ah for gigabit and so on. Our ZigBee falls under IEEE802.15 category, which is working on WPAN (wireless personal area networks) standards. The ZigBee is IEEE802.15.4 standard and the ones before this are as under;
IEEE 802.15.1: WPAN / Bluetooth
IEEE 802.15.2: Coexistence
IEEE 802.15.3: High Rate WPAN
It’s a low cost low range technology and this makes it the most favorite for the IoT developers, as the main agenda to make IoT popular is to make it affordable. Although the IoT has been there in industrial automation sector for decades now, when machines are talking to machines and the SCADA server takes the decisions on the inputs, but the size of the industrial automation projects runs in millions of dollars, and the same, when gets customized for home users – it’s got to be affordable.
ZigBee works in a short range from 10mtrs. to 100mtrs. at a data rate of 250kbps and is capable of transmitting data over longer distances by passing data through a mesh network of intermediate devices, which makes it a further hot favorite. IoT is machine to machine (M2M) communication that means a lower data rate is not a problem, but the distance limitation could have been a bottleneck. The moment “pass through a mesh” capability is added, it becomes a really affordable and popular technology for many applications. Low power consumption adds to the advantages of ZigBee over Wi-Fi, although both run on 2.4 GHz band only.
Today it is a hot favorite technology for a huge number of solution developed by us like street light management, building management system, parking management system, energy efficiency system, firefighting & alarm system in a building, home automation, PA system, smart lighting solution and many more. As our focus is to change the user experience through technology and not work in the backend, ZigBee has enabled us a lot to achieve this objective.