SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The ZigBee Alliance named Tobin Richardson as its new chairman and chief executive, replacing Bob Heile, who was named chairman emeritus and chief technologist of the group. With the passing of the torch, the group is poised for expansion in areas such as smart meters and China, said Heile in an interview with EE Times.
“The alliance is growing so much I cannot do what I was doing alone--its beyond one person--and the organization will benefit from a new set of hands and eyes,” said Heile who helped found the group a decade ago.
The change comes as the Smart Energy 2.0 standard is in final testing with first products excepted to emerge this summer. SEP2 is an IP-based standard for smart meters with variants that ride Zigbee, Wi-Fi and HomePlug powerline networks.
“We brought [Richardson] in to work on the smart energy stuff, and now that a lot of major issues around it are behind us, it’s a opportunity for him to step up to new leadership and for me to catch my breath,” said Heile.
Zigbee is gaining traction in home automation, wireless sensor networks and other Internet of Things sectors, said Heile. ABI Research projects ZigBee device shipments could reach more than 350 million by 2016,
"Our future is not in golly-gee-whiz new technologies, but in filling in the pieces to make sure these things can be well used,” said Heile. “We need more integrated hubs and answers for questions such as how does this get integrated into the TV set--these are still things that are getting sorted out,” he added.
Heile said the group also hopes China embraces Zigbee rather than pursuing its own alternative to the protocol. Toward that end, the group aims to announce one or more demo centers for Zigbee in China this year.
“My goal for this year is to make them feel comfortable in Zigbee-based products as a key part of wireless networking solutions,” he said. “We have a very active special interest group in China and several supporters including government entities,” he said, adding that the alliance is “looking at new [China] administration to see what impact it may have.”
On the technology front, an active debate continues over whether or not the Internet of Things needs tailored technologies such as Zigbee to meet low power and cost requirements. The IPSO Alliance is a proponent of using Internet Protocol as an viable alternative to Zigbee
“The IETF is working actively on the bits and pieces, but it aint ready for prime time,” said Heile. “A lot of people think its nuts to do IP to the end device because it’s a lot of overhead and doesn’t buy a lot of functionality,” he said.
IPSO advocates argue IP based hardware and software is ready and has been demonstrated for a variety of Internet of Things markets at acceptable cost and power budgets.
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