Reports of ZigBee on handsets would be a big deal for the connected home (and ZigBee)

Posted: 12th July 2013

Could ZigBee gain some real ground when it comes to the connected home? Pocket-lint is reporting that Samsung and HTC are both thinking about adding a ZigBee chip to their handsets. If true, that would give consumers more control over their existing home automation products such as certain motorized window shades and ZigBee switches, as well as provide a big boost to the ZigBee standard.

Currently, Z-Wave, which is an alternative low-energy, mesh networking standard, is more prevalent in home automation devices — the CEO of Securifi, the maker of the Almond + router estimated Z-wave products outnumbered ZigBee products by a factor of 10 to 1. And with Bluetooth Low Energy gaining ground in newly launched connected devices and adding more support for those gadgets, ZigBee is looking a little lame.

Both Qualcomm and Broadcom are forging ahead with the belief that ZigBee isn’t going to be a player — stances that might change if big device makers want to put the radio technology in their handsets. One reason companies are betting so heavily on Bluetooth Low Energy for connected devices in the home is because most handsets already have it. That means a person can buy a Bluetooth lock for example and have it work seamlessly with their iOS or Android device (or it will soon).

Given the importance the smartphone has played so far in the adoption of connected devices, getting a ZigBee chip inside a mass market handset is not a small thing. Of course, putting the chip inside the handset isn’t enough. The ZigBee Alliance must beef up its profiles and features to support easy discoverability and security. On the OS side, Apple and Google must write native support for ZigBee in their OSes– something Android recently did for Bluetooth LE.

Source: GigaOM. Read more here.

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