The only problem, and it’s a short term problem, lies in standardizing the upper application layers of the Zigbee standard, but Sheflin expects that to be complete late this year. "Once that’s done we can build applications. Our industrial customers demand open standards. We’re not looking for proprietary advantage."
Following this year’s tests, Sheflin hopes to have pilot projects in place early in 2005, with actual products released by next summer. The "amazing" customer acceptance of XYR, which requires site surveys before installation, and line-of-sight use of the 900-MHz unlicensed band, tells Sheflin the market will be there.
Don’t worry about Zigbee, he adds, if you’ve already seen XYR. "We always focus on migration of our customers. Those who have XYR we’ll make sure we can upgrade them to the next standard."
Sheflin is already looking at how Zigbee might go into a major facility. He figures a central node, with regular power, could service 50 wireless sensors running on batteries.
"What’s great about Zigbee is its very low power consumption," notes Sheflin. "We’re talking about several years [of battery life], and our goal is [to achieve] more than that." There are very efficient power management aspects to Zigbee and those help Honeywell’s strategies for using these devices to minimize power consumption he says. "What you want in a system like this is for every sensor to degrade equally, so when you’re done, every sensor has consumed all its batteries. Zigbee won’t just save energy, he adds, but will have a dramatic increase on worker productivity in these plants.
Dana Blankenhorn, Business Analyst