In today's wireless world, there are a zillion different standards and protocols.
One of the key challenges is finding a standard that can apply to a product that is
to be used in different markets -- in most cases, the product designed for the North
American market must be completely redesigned on a different frequency before it can
be marketed in Europe, and again for the Asian Pacific market. ZigBee is a open global
standard for reliable, cost-effective, low power wireless applications based on the
IEEE 802.15.4 standard, and looks to be the best way available now to help fix this
situation. The first ZigBee protocols were issued in 2004, followed by a complete
revision in 2006 and a new, back-compatible version in November 2007.
Zigbee is intended as a mesh networking protocol. There are some problems with this!
Also, as expected, there are some other controversies on whether or not crowding in
the 2.4 GHz band will make Zigbee unusable due to interference. The Zigbee Alliance, which
sells access to its protocols for a very costly sum, says not....
The name ZigBee comes from the domestic honeybee, which uses a zig-zag type of dance
to communicate important information to other hive members. This communications dance
(the "ZigBee Principle") is what engineers are trying to emulate with this
protocol -- a bunch of separate, simple organisms that join to together to tackle
complex tasks. Besides, it's a catchy name, at least the equal to its rival Bluetooth!