Bringing 6 application areas into the Zigbee 3.0 Pro standard is a nice way to ensure that the devices will be useful across domains - and expand their market. Seven year battery life will also be a great boon ... the only problem is that in an ever more complex Internet of Things it may become very difficult to identify the source of a system failure when the battery finally fails. We're all familiar with the chirp of the failing smoke detector (which can be hard to localize among multple devices in a building with sound reflecting walls). In 7 years, when the swarm of Internet of Things devices are all interconnected and interdependent, how will we ever determine which one has failed? A standard in which devices report their identity and location when they experience a failing battery would be a great benefit.
What's missing from the ZigBee developer ecosystem is a open source reference implemenation that's not tied to any particular vendors hardware. Unless things have changed, the ZigBee Alliance was not particularly open to this (requiring developers to stump up $$$$ in membership fees). Has there ever been a successful network standard that did not have multiple open source implementations? I don't think so.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.