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Z-Wave Specs Released Online

SAN JOSE, Calif. ¨C Sigma Designs released online aspects of its Z-Wave home networking technology in an effort to encourage more companies to adopt it. The news comes as competitors including Bluetooth, Thread and Zigbee are stepping up their efforts in the smart home.

Sigma released specifications for the Z-Wave interoperability layer along with its S2 security application framework and two APIs -- Z-Wave over IP and Z-Wave middleware. The APIs help link gateways to cloud services and come with sample code from Sigma.

¡°Previously you had to be a Z-Wave Alliance member with signed contracts and NDAs, but none of that will be needed any longer,¡± said Raoul Wijgergangs, vice president of Sigma¡¯s Z-Wave group. ¡°We expect an even wider community of developers will create interesting gateways, middleware and cloud plug-ins now¡­we go further than competitive technologies in this space,¡± he said.

In May, Alphabet¡¯s Nest Labs released OpenThread, an open source version of its 802.15.4 protocol for secure mesh networks. Rivals the Allseen Alliance and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) already made available open source reference code for their application-layer protocols for the Internet of Things.

For its part, the Bluetooth SIG released specs in June for a version 5.0 sporting longer range, more throughput and a mesh standard. Within days, Zigbee announced a new mesh spec covering a broad range of frequency bands and data rates.

The release of the Z-Wave specs comes amid step-wise attempts to unify the fractured space of IoT protocols.

In July, the Thread and OCF groups said they will exchange liaisons but stopped short of saying they will build a path to interoperability. More than a year ago, Zigbee said it will run its application layer on top of Thread.

More than 50 million Z-Wave products are now in use ¨C 20 million of them shipping last year alone -- based on a total to date of about 1,500 designs from 375 companies, said Wijgergangs. The 900 MHz network ¨Cratified by the ITU as its G.9959 standard -- is focused on ultra low power and thus most popular in devices such as locks and light switches.

By contrast, Thread was launched in October 2014. So far about 30 other products are waiting for certification from the Thread Group that has more than 230 members including ARM, Big Ass Fans, Samsung Electronics, Schneider Electric and Yale Security.

¡ª Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times


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