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ZigBee Transforms the Supply Chain

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Cryptoman
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Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
Cryptoman   2/13/2013 10:01:46 AM
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ZigBee is a really solid technology with built in networking capabilities that allows mesh topology. This feature allows something called "self-healing" where if one ZigBee node fails, the messages can be re-routed via the nodes that are up and running. Unfortunately, ZigBee has not found its deserved place in the IT world yet. If ZigBee modems could have entered the PC hardware a few years back like a WiFi or a Bluetooth modem, this standard would have gone very far by now. Due to the lack of applications and the need then, ZigBee could not make it into the PCs. I am sure there are other political reasons to this as well (but that's beside the point).

In terms of battery life, ZigBee is good but it is not as good as Bluetooth. However, when you compare the capabilities of Bluetooth and ZigBee, I think the extra power requirement of ZigBee is more than justified. Unlike Bluetooth, ZigBee was designed as a wireless data networking technology from ground up whereas Bluetooth has been launched as a "cable replacement" technology and nothing more. Nowadays, with the rise of wireless sensor networking (WSN), Bluetooth vendors are trying to push it as a data networking technology, especially with the introduction of the recent Bluetooth Low Energy. Objectively speaking, ZigBee is much more suitable for data networking, however, whether it will manage to become a dominant standard depends on whether it can be recognised as an IT standard such as Bluetooth. I hope it does.

Companies such as Philips have the power to make ZigBee fly by integrating it into their new generation products. The smart light bulb by Philips is a great product and a good opportunity for ZigBee.

 

t.alex
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
t.alex   2/14/2013 10:31:30 PM
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Zigbee is really the ideal candidate for supply chain and warehouse applications. The only disadvantage as compared to bluetooth is it does not come ready inside mobile devices like bluetooth. 

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
Douglas Alexander   2/15/2013 1:00:28 PM
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t.alex, size is everything in mobile devices. The Zigbee radio is still pretty large but there are continual improvements for size so I imagine that we will see greater deployments as the size of the transponder decreases. Zigbee daisy chains so the distance or size of the warehouse is not an issue. Like youself, I think the Zigbee tech will become the wireless method of choice for WMS applications.

t.alex
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
t.alex   2/17/2013 11:02:30 PM
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Douglas, 

Thanks for highlighting on the size of Zigbee radio. I am curious about the complexity of Zigbee vs Wifi and how would people manage to fit Wifi into mobile but not yet Zigbee. Zigbee seems to be much simpler than Wifi.

 

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
Douglas Alexander   2/15/2013 1:13:23 PM
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@ Cryptoman, I agree. When companies start to take advantage just two-state control systems like on-off, open-closed, up-down etc., then Zigbee remote controls for many of the basic automation requirements in the home or business will be quickly adopted. Writing software script files that cycle through a command-control set, will prepare an entire environment before the inhabitants arrive. Mobile devices with applications that talk to Zigbee hosts could be next big wave of application types. Boot up your computer at home while you are still on the freeway. Turn on the coffe pot, central heating, or lights from bed. Or wake-up remote cameras by location in the home from work. I can see it coming. Zigbee batteries are designed to last for two years so wireless cameras at the perimeter of your property or inside your refridgerator or mounted on your dog's collar may be cimmon place in two years. Hey! Check out the neighbor's dog looking at us. I wonder if his camera is on?!

mfbertozzi
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
mfbertozzi   2/16/2013 8:15:14 AM
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@DA: do you think sooner or later IOT (Internet of Things), by deploying 6LowPan, will replace short range paradigm, including ZigBee or RFID?

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
Douglas Alexander   2/16/2013 9:25:38 AM
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@mf...iI think 6LowPan has weaknesses and strengths. The fact that a ZigBee can use 6... Is a plus, but I'm not sure I want to run critical sense and control applications over IP. HLS is already having fits about cyber terrorism and sensitive grids like power and it would seem that almost any IP transport stream is vulnerable to hacking. Until Internet Security becomes hack proof, I would hesitate to encourage any national security sensitive applications from the 6... protocol. That being said, for in home use or non security sensitive applications, 6... May become the application of choice as ZigBee does not have a PN innate connectivity to TC/IP stack. 6... Would facilitate multi-mode controls over otherwise discrete ZigBee systems, so I think there is definitely a possibility that 6... Will have a serious impact in the same market space as ZigBee, but they may work more in consort rather than competition. Good Question! Recently, I was asked to consult on a Digital TV network installation where we could distribute the signals through the AC power lines in a medical clinic. I think there are multiple choices and mixes for transport protocols and mixing and matching, if interfaces become transparent to one another, will produce even more flexible products for home and industry. It could become a market sector in itself.

mfbertozzi
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
mfbertozzi   2/16/2013 9:58:18 AM
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@DA: many thanks, very interesting feedback; speaking for myself, I think you are right in suggesting a prudent approach by adopting 6...but on the other hand I think technology for making a step forward, sooner or later, will go toward seemless deployment and maybe we will assist to a sort of overall integration among short-wide protocols communication.

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
Douglas Alexander   2/16/2013 12:45:50 PM
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@mf, Good point again. "Seamlessness" is definitely a technology enabling factor. Convergence of various technologies largely depends on the interfaces, data modes, and power requirements distribution between the technolgies allowing them to work in tandem. I never thought of this before, but there probably is room for a company that exists soley to analyse the various technologies' I/O for the purpose of selling canned interfaces between or among systems. I know that software operating systems use API, real-time sharing and file format conversions for intercommunication, but take that concept to blend hardware/software based convergent technologies together seamlessly and truly agile products across many industry sectors can become a huge boost to the economy. By definition if the individual technology is already in place, then creating new products that simply major in tying the technolgies together into whole new products, would have a relatively short time-to-market and very low R&D costs.

mfbertozzi
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Great standard for short-range wireless communication.
mfbertozzi   2/18/2013 11:42:49 AM
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@DA: thanks again, it is a very fascinating discussion, my pleasure; I believe you have properly outlined several interesting key factors which are doable to influence the near future in terms of smart-objects and apps embedded. Thanks again.

Wale Bakare
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Supply Network Guru
Mass Market for ZigBee Eventually
Wale Bakare   2/13/2013 12:21:04 PM
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Interesting that ZigBee technology is getting support and market breakthrough from one of the big players in OEMs sector. I would love to see it blooming soon, hopefully.

Brian Fuller
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You ain't seen nothing yet
Brian Fuller   2/13/2013 3:42:53 PM
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Douglas, over 50 perhaps, but with the hipness of a 25-year-old! 

;  )

This is a great post that hints at some amazing innovation that will get injected in the chain, I'll argue, a lot faster than we think. 

I liken it to driverless cars. Suddenly, they're here. Why? Because the technology has been here for years and it's low cost and accessible. The only thing holding adoption back will be regulation. The technology is not an issue.

I'm sure there will be innovation within the supply chain (probably going on behind closed doors right now) that will fundamentally change how we do things, in ways few could have imagined. 

 

loucovey
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Stock Keeper
Re: You ain't seen nothing yet
loucovey   2/15/2013 3:14:29 PM
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I wonder how we got to this design in the first place.  The problem with it is that it is always on, drawing power, and the point of it is to reduce power consumption.  And it adds a tremendous amount of complexity and potential failure to the entire system.  Wouldn't it make more sense to put it on an ethernet system ? It would be much less complicated and lower power.

 

Nemos
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Supply Network Guru
Technology is running
Nemos   2/14/2013 6:20:41 PM
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"Yesterday's fast is today's slow" that's is so true ,.... I have the feeling that every year it passes the technology is running with the double speed. When I was a child, you could not realize this, and today it is so obvious that I am afraid in a few years will not be in the position to follow the speed .....

Ariella
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Technology is running
Ariella   2/14/2013 9:12:12 PM
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@Nemos Absolutely, computing power gets faster, and we grow a lot more impatient. It was not so very long ago that I had a dial-up connection for the internet. I remember waiting 20 minutes for high-resolution photo to download. That pace of data transfer wouldn't work for today when images and even video are standard online.

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Technology is running
Douglas Alexander   2/15/2013 12:54:28 PM
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@Ariella, You bring up an interesting point. I was around in the days of 300 baud dial-up modems and it took a lifetime to receive a graphic. All the web developers were encouraged to keep their images down to 100 X 100 or at most 200 X 200 pixels. Now with the increased bandwidth, as you indicated, huge multimedia files do not present a problem. I was thinking of your comment regarding "patience" and how our expectations have changed and how other personal and corporate "personality" traits may have been impacted with the widespread adoption of the internet. I know employers expect more work to be done in shorter periods of time and when those expectations are based upon internet speeds, it follows that the wider bandwidth the higher the productivity if all other things are equal. Sounds like a marketing tag line for an ISP.

Ariella
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Supply Network Guru
Re: Technology is running
Ariella   2/15/2013 1:04:02 PM
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"Sounds like a marketing tag line for an ISP." That could work. On just this topic, I recently shared this. Note the that a rotary phone is used to make the connection to the computer in the video. Note that what is conveyed is devoid of pictuers and ads (slower connections have their compensations) Also note the quote "we're not in it to make money." Of course, in 1981 it was much cheaper to buy your paper for pennies rather than pay $5 an hour for a paper that takes 2 hours to dowload.

_hm
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Supply Network Guru
Zigbee transformation
_hm   2/15/2013 4:38:43 AM
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ZigBee is around for quite few years. Also, it has vast potential to help resolve many new applications. However, adaptation to this technology is rather quite slow. Is this due to incremental cost or is it technology introduced little too early?

 

Brian Fuller
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Keeping up with change
Brian Fuller   2/15/2013 7:27:12 PM
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There's an interesting subtext that strikes me in this thread. It used to be (and still is) the case that technologists complain that governmental regulation of technology can't keep up with technology's hyper-fast changes. 

Perhaps we're at the point within the industry itself that we can't keep up with the changing pace of the very technology we invent. In other words, there's some natural human "adoption rate." 

So to the victors go the quickest adoption of the fastest-changing technologies. Maybe this is stating the obvious. 

Douglas Alexander
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Re: Keeping up with change
Douglas Alexander   2/16/2013 12:55:55 PM
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@Brian...Not to mention the fact that inner-product line delvelopment advancements can make an iPad three obsolete with an iPad 4 within months of former's release. I still don't know what the change-worthy buying incentives are, but I'm not looking either. iPad 5 is on the way...I'm sure. 

FLYINGSCOT
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Supply Network Guru
old timer
FLYINGSCOT   2/19/2013 4:05:01 PM
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Zigbee has been around for years but I am not sure how well it is actually selling.  I do not think it has ever lived up to the hype.  However I recently saw a post about Nordic Semiconcuctor (I seem to recall) who claimed to have a very useful ultra low power version of Zigbee.  It might be worth checking it out.

t.alex
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Supply Network Guru
Re: old timer
t.alex   3/4/2013 10:04:10 AM
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FLYINGSCOT,

 

Zigbee should be popular and it is mainly found in industrial applications, not consumer products.



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