A clear trend in the emerging smart home and industrial automation sector is the co-existence of several different wireless technologies. Thus, the need for a single development platform supporting multiple connectivity options arises.
To provide developers with complete flexibility in their wireless IoT designs, Nordic has added one more wireless protocol working on its nRF52840 system-on-chip: Zigbee 3.0. Announced in 2016, the nRF52840 is a multiprotocol chip that already supports Bluetooth, 802.15.4, Ant, Thread and 2.4 GHz proprietary.
There are a number of smart home settings in which Bluetooth and Zigbee can run concurrently.
The firm noted that the new Zigbee solution for use with its nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC enables concurrent Zigbee 3.0 operation with Bluetooth Low Energy using the S140 v6.0 SoftDevice.
For example, a nRF52840 gateway can control Zigbee smart lighting network from a smartphone connected via Bluetooth 5. Another example is a Zigbee security network using Bluetooth beacons for location identification.
The software development kit (SDK) includes several examples including concurrent operation of Zigbee and Bluetooth 5 for a smart light bulb and switch.
Zigbee is a global, standards-based wireless solution that takes advantage of the IEEE 802.15.4 PHY and operates globally in 2.4GHz unlicensed bands (and other frequency bands in some geographical zones). Raw data throughput rates of 250kbs can be achieved at 2.4GHz (16 channels) and transmission distances range from 10 to 100 meters, depending on power output and environmental characteristics. The technology supports large mesh networks (which allow nodes to relay messages to other nodes) and low power operation for extending battery life.
Established in 2002, the Zigbee Alliance is a non-profit association of members that has created a thriving global ecosystem. The Zigbee Alliance states that the technology is a global, standards-based wireless solution that can conveniently and affordably control the widest range of devices to improve comfort, security, and convenience for consumers. It is the technology of choice for world-leading service providers, installers and retailers who bring the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) into the Smart Home.
The first engineering release for Zigbee on nRF52840 is released. A production-grade Zigbee 3.0 certified release is planned for 2nd half of 2018.