Zigbee, What's all that about?

You may have heard of this funny little word that let's the imagination run wild with visions of bumble bees and the like, well let me tell you now. It's got nothing to do with bees. So let me try and explain in the simplest way possible the basics of Zigbee. The body that maintains the protocol and ensures that any devices using the protocol are certified to do so is the Zigbee Alliance.

Wireless Communication Protocol.

Zigbee is basically a wireless communication protocol that generally operates on the 2.4Ghz band. It's purpose is to provide a low power, low data rate network of devices that can send and recieve messages from one another. These messages can only contain small amounts of data(packets) yet the transfer of these packets from one node to another are very reliable once the network is correctly configured.

Low Power MicroController Device

The Zigbee protocol is usually implemented using embedded processors and sits inside the program space in what we call a stack. In most cases the stack is pre-programmed into the chip or comes as a library so application developers can access the zigbee functions. Each device that has a zigbee stack is known as a node. The node is a wireless device and can communicate with other nodes sending the messages or packets when required.

What's it used for

The zigbee alliance has created a number of profiles such as Home Automation, Smart Metering and more. They have also created a set of clusters which are little objects of functionality that contain attributes and commands in a way similar to an object oriented programming language. The profiles use these clusters to implement various devices.

There are clusters to achieve any sort of functionality you could possibly imagine. On/Off Clusters, Level Control Clusters each with there own attributes. The zigbee nodes send requests between each other that contains cluster and profile information to cause the receiving device to carry out some action depending on the cluster and profile message sent.

Where can I find out more.

We will be putting some more articles on this site in the coming months but in the meantime I would suggest visiting the Zigbee Alliance Site