Zigbee and other wireless personal area networks (WPANs) are gaining popularity because they’re simple, inexpensive and they offer the potential to reduce wiring in homes, factories, and medical enterprises.
“If you have a house that’s not pre-wired for a security system, then running wires can be time-consuming and costly,” says Rodger Richey, applications manager for the Advanced Microcontrollers Architecture Div. at Microchip Technology Inc. “If you can do it wirelessly, then you can do it cost effectively.”
Beyond home security, Zigbee and other WPANs are being incorporated in home automation and lighting, industrial control and monitoring, utility metering and HVAC systems.
Here are four new products targeted at Zigbee and other WPANs.
Microchip’s Zigbee Protocol Platform
Microchip’s Zigbee platform includes the MRF24J40, a 2.4-GHz IEEE 802.15.4 transceiver targeted at Zigbee and proprietary wireless protocols for RF applications requiring low power and high performance. It also includes the Zena wireless network analyzer tool and a MiWi small-footprint protocol developed by Microchip for customers who don’t need Zigbee interoperability but want IEEE 802.15.4 transceivers in low-cost mesh networks. Microchip’s RF card is pre-certified, making development simpler. “Sometimes the hardest part of doing an application is getting your design certified,” Richey says. “We’re trying to take the guess work out of the development by offering an FCC-certified design.”
Atmel’s AVR Microcontroller Solution
Atmel Corp.’s IEEE 802.15.4 solution offers migration to wireless networking for more than 30,000 designs using its AVR microcontrollers in applications ranging from automotive to industrial to building control. The AVR Z-Link solution includes Atmel’s ultra-low power 2.4-GHz AT86RF230 radio, an AVR microcontroller, and a small footprint, fully compliant, media access control (MAC) solution designed for the AVR microcontroller. The product’s user kit also includes a daughter board.
Ember’s Flexible Path to Zigbee
Ember’s EM260 Zigbee co-processor comes with an open-source interface, called EZSP, which makes it possible to integrate Zigbee networking capabilities with virtually any vendor’s microcontroller. Ember also offers the InSight EM260 Development Kit, a toolkit including hardware, Zigbee networking stack, EZSP serial interface, as well as development and debugging software in an integrated environment.
Freescale’s Zigbee Software for ColdFire
Freescale Semiconductor’s new Media Access Controller (MAC) software supports the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol on the low-power, 32-bit ColdFire architecture. The new product addition gives Freescale the necessary components for wireless design – including microcontroller, RF and software stack – in eight- and 32-bit chipsets. The 802.15.4 software is now available for the MCF5282, MCF5213, and MCF5223x processor families.