Frequently Asked Questions

Zigbee is an IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios, such as for home automation, medical device data collection, and other low-power low-bandwidth needs, designed for small-scale projects which need wireless connection. Hence, Zigbee is a low-power, low data rate, and close proximity (i.e., personal area) wireless ad hoc network.

The technology defined by the Zigbee specification is intended to be simpler and less expensive than other wireless personal area networks (WPANs), such as Bluetooth or more general wireless networking such as Wi-Fi. Applications include wireless light switches, home energy monitors, traffic management systems, and other consumer and industrial equipment that requires short-range low-rate wireless data transfer.

Its low power consumption limits transmission distances to 10–100 meters line-of-sight, depending on power output and environmental characteristics. Zigbee devices can transmit data over long distances by passing data through a mesh network of intermediate devices to reach more distant ones. Zigbee is typically used in low data rate applications that require long battery life and secure networking (Zigbee networks are secured by 128 bit symmetric encryption keys.) Zigbee has a defined rate of 250 kbit/s, best suited for intermittent data transmissions from a sensor or input device.

Zigbee was conceived in 1998, standardized in 2003, and revised in 2006. The name refers to the waggle dance of honey bees after their return to the beehive.

Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard developed to enable a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular telecommunications bands. NB-IoT is a narrowband radio technology designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) and is one of a range of Mobile IoT (MIoT) technologies standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

Other 3GPP IoT technologies include eMTC (enhanced Machine-Type Communication) and EC-GSM-IoT. The NB-IoT specification was frozen at Release 13 of the 3GPP specification (LTE-Advanced Pro), in June 2016.

NB-IoT focuses specifically on indoor coverage, low cost, long battery life, and enabling a large number of connected devices. The NB-IoT technology is deployed “in-band” in the spectrum allocated to Long Term Evolution (LTE) – using resource blocks within a normal LTE carrier, or in the unused resource blocks within a LTE carrier’s guard-band – or “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum. It is also suitable for the re-farming of GSM spectrum.

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances (using short-wavelength UHF radio waves in the ISM band from 2.4 to 2.485 GHz[3]) from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks (PANs). Invented by telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994,[4] it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables.

Bluetooth is managed by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), which has more than 30,000 member companies in the areas of telecommunication, computing, networking, and consumer electronics. The IEEE standardized Bluetooth as IEEE 802.15.1, but no longer maintains the standard. The Bluetooth SIG oversees development of the specification, manages the qualification program, and protects the trademarks. A manufacturer must meet Bluetooth SIG standards to market it as a Bluetooth device. A network of patents apply to the technology, which are licensed to individual qualifying devices.

Wi-Fi or WiFi is a technology for wireless local area networking with devices based on the IEEE 802.11 standards. Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance, which restricts the use of the term Wi-Fi Certified to products that successfully complete interoperability certification testing.

Devices that can use Wi-Fi technology include personal computers, video-game consoles, phones and tablets, digital cameras, smart TVs, digital audio players and modern printers. Wi-Fi compatible devices can connect to the Internet via a WLAN and a wireless access point. Such an access point (or hotspot) has a range of about 20 meters (66 feet) indoors and a greater range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can be as small as a single room with walls that block radio waves, or as large as many square kilometres achieved by using multiple overlapping access points.

Depiction of a device sending information wirelessly to another device, both connected to the local network, in order to print a document.

Wi-Fi most commonly uses the 2.4 gigahertz (12 cm) UHF and 5.8 gigahertz (5 cm) SHF ISM radio bands. Anyone within range with a wireless modem can attempt to access the network; because of this, Wi-Fi is more vulnerable to attack (called eavesdropping) than wired networks.

A passive infrared sensor (PIR sensor) is an electronic sensor that measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view. They are most often used in PIR-based motion detectors. PIR sensors are commonly used in security alarms and automatic lighting applications.

PIR sensors detect general movement, but do not give information on who or what moved. For that purpose, an imaging IR sensor is required.

PIR sensors are commonly called simply “PIR”, or sometimes “PID”, for “passive infrared detector”. The term passive refers to the fact that PIR devices do not radiate energy for detection purposes. They work entirely by detecting infrared radiation (radiant heat) emitted by or reflected from objects.

A PIR-based motion detector is used to sense movement of people, animals, or other objects. They are commonly used in burglar alarms and automatically activated lighting systems.

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