Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Home is Alive

Home Smart Home
By Duncan Graham-Rowe

Next month, a host of new wireless gadgets designed to help make buildings and homes "smart" will debut at the ZigBee Open House and Exposition in Chicago. Among them will be a so-called domestic awareness system that warns you if the stove is left on or if the basement starts flooding. Another lets you network your home entertainment system with environmental controls such as light dimmers or a thermostat.

Underlying these systems is a new wireless-networking standard called ZigBee.

Developed by the ZigBee Alliance--which includes Honeywell, Samsung, Mitsubishi Electric, Motorola, and some 160 other companies--the standard allows household appliances, sensors, and other devices to talk to each other without the need for connecting cables.

ZigBee technology could cut installation costs dramatically by letting you install a light switch, say, or a heat or moisture sensor wherever you want in a building just by sticking it on a wall...

Whereas many earlier smart systems used proprietary technology, ZigBee is built on an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) global standard, 802.15.4...

ZigBee allows devices to form mesh networks, where each unit can relay information to its neighbors. Mesh networks are far more robust than their hub-and-spoke counterparts...

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