“At the International Builder’s Show in Orlando, Fla. last week, Zensys announced an alliance of more than a hundred companies that will support Zensys’s chip and software technology designed to automate the home. The Z-Wave Alliance will focus on marketing, interoperability testing and technology collaborations, according to Raoul Wijgergangs, VP of U.S. business development for Denmark-based Zensys.
Zensys formed in 1999 and initially participated in the Zigbee efforts, according to Wijgergangs, because its interest was in the home automation market. But Zigbee expanded its focus to include industrial and other areas – areas that Zigbee plans to take to market before it takes the home automation component there. That spurred Zensys to go off on its own, starting from scratch, to address the home automation space. In 2001 the company decided to refocus its efforts just on the chip and software rather than make the end devices itself.
The result is its Z-Wave technology, “a low-cost, two-way, wireless mesh network communications technology that lets consumers monitor and manage their lighting, security systems, thermostats, garage door openers, entertainment systems and other home products easily, conveniently and securely from anywhere in the world,” according to a company statement.
Z-Wave trumps Zigbee in several departments, according to Wijgergangs. One of its advantages is that it runs at 908 MHz in the United States and at 868 MHz in Europe. That means it won’t interfere with Wi-Fi as Zigbee sometimes can because both Wi-Fi and Zigbee run at 2.4GHz. It also means that the technology can be more power efficient than Zigbee is. This is important because according to its research, those consumers who run Wi-Fi networks in their homes are the most likely users of home automation technology. In addition, Wijgergangs says that Zigbee requires 10 times the power that Z-Wave does. And as far as end products are concerned, Z-Wave ones will be half the retail price of Zigbee end devices, he added.
Wijgergangs says some companies have switched from Zigbee to Z-Wave and offered Leviton as an example of that. But as far as he knows, no company is currently supporting both technologies.
Future products will include those that allow consumers to control their home automation networks from their PCs or over the Internet. That functionality “is coming out between now and the next 3 or 4 months,” said Wijgergangs. Zensys also offers bridges to X10, Wi-Fi and Ethernet.
Currently Zensys has no plans to add Zigbee support to its products, but doesn’t rule out the possibility.”